Copyright Fashion Design

A Copyright is an exclusive legal right granted to the creator of an original work to license, copy, sell, distribute, or otherwise exploit the work for his or her own benefit.
News & Analysis as of

“Knock-Offs” Beware: SCOTUS Makes a Fashion-Forward Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court has settled the closely watched Varsity Brands Inc. et al. v. Star Athletica LLC copyright dispute, holding that cheerleading outfits contain distinct design elements that allow for copyright ownership....more

SCOTUS Determines That Decorations on Cheerleading Uniforms Are Conceptually Separable From Uniforms and Eligible For Copyright...

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a 6-2 ruling in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., holding the decorative elements on Varsity Brands’ cheerleading uniforms were...more

Supreme Court Outlines New Test for Copyrightability of Useful Articles

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. significantly expands copyright protection for useful articles. On March 22, 2017, the US Supreme Court set out a new standard for copyrightability...more

Supreme Court Clarifies Copyright Protection for Artistic Features in Clothing

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court held that a two- or three-dimensional work of art on a useful article, such as clothing, is protectable under copyright law if: (1) the work of art can be perceived as separate from the...more

Hip, Hip, Hooray for Copyrightable Decorative Elements

After months of standing on the sidelines of the most closely watched case impacting the fashion industry in recent years, legal practitioners and fashion designers now have a framework for protecting decorative elements of...more

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y for the Fashion Industry: SCOTUS Establishes Uniform Test for Protection of Artistic Works Applied to Apparel

The overall design (such as the shape and cut) of a garment, bag or shoe is not protectable under current U.S. Copyright law because such items are considered “useful articles.” However, Section 101 of the Copyright Act...more

Litigation Alert: Supreme Court Clarifies Copyright Eligibility for Useful Articles

While much of the legal press may be speculating about the future of the Supreme Court’s Chevron test, yesterday the Court considered a very different kind of “chevron”—a design on a cheerleader uniform. In Star Athletica LLC...more

Hip Hip Hooray! Supreme Court Upholds Copyright Protection for Cheerleader Uniforms

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court, in a 6-2 opinion by Justice Thomas, affirmed the Sixth Circuit’s holding that the two-dimensional graphic designs on Varsity Brands’ cheerleading uniforms are eligible for copyright...more

Supreme Court Expands Copyright Protection for Designs Originally Produced on Useful Articles

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court (in a 6-2 decision) ruled that a stripes and chevron pattern on a cheerleading uniform may be eligible for copyright protection and that the separability test under 17 U.S.C. §101 did not...more

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Designs Are Copyrightable Under 17 U.S.C. § 101

The U.S. Supreme Court dramatically simplified and expanded the world of fashion and copyrights today, ruling that the chevron striping of a cheerleading uniform (and any other design on clothing, furniture, or other "useful...more

"Supreme Court Seeks to Clarify Copyrightability of Design Features on Useful Articles in Cheerleading Uniform Case"

On March 22, 2017, in a 6-2 decision in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., 580 U.S. ___, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a design feature incorporated into a useful article may obtain copyright...more

Supreme Court Rules on Cheerleader Uniform Case

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in what many refer to as the cheerleader uniform case. Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc....more

The Designer Formerly Known As…Intellectual Property Issues Arising From Personal Names As Fashion Brands

Kate Spade, Paul Frank, Joseph Abboud, Catherine Malandrino, and Karen Millen—aside from being well-known designers, all have something else in common; they no longer own the right to use their personal names as their brands....more

Intellectual Property Bulletin - Winter 2017

A Smooth Patch in a Rough Road? Governmental Transition and Intellectual Property - Whenever a new Congress convenes, some IP issues come to the fore while others take a back seat. Transition to a new administration in...more

New York Fashion Week: A Lineup of The Most Fashionable Trademark and Copyright Claims

It’s that time of the year again when New York City becomes the most fashionable place on the planet. While I would argue that Manhattan is always fashionable, New York Fashion Week adds a bit of extra excitement, glamour and...more

The Supreme Court’s Fashionable Case: Implications for Expanding Copyright Protection to Apparel

Currently before the United States Supreme Court is the question: “[w]hat is the appropriate test to determine when a feature of the design of a useful article is protectable under § 101 of the Copyright Act.”1 Put another...more

Chevrons, Stripes, Cheerleaders, and Copyright: The Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands

The closely watched case of Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands was argued in front of the the Supreme Court on Monday, offering anxious fashion designers a glimpse into how the Justices may rule. ...more

Is a Cheerleading Uniform’s Design Separable from its Utilitarian Aspects and Therefore Copyrightable? - Star Athletica V....

On October 31, 2016, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Star Athletica V. Varsity Brands. At the core of the case is whether the design of a cheerleading uniform, including patterns, graphics and colors,...more

Business Litigation Report - July 2016

Article: Increase in Vertical Price Restraint Enforcement in China - In recent months, Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement actions scrutinizing and penalizing pricing-related issues have noticeably increased. A growing...more

Supreme Court to Clarify Test for Copyright Protection of Useful Articles

On May 2, 2016, the Supreme Court granted certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to resolve a multi-circuit split over “the appropriate test to determine when a feature of a useful article is...more

Comic-Con, Costumes, and Copyright Concerns

Get ready, nerds! This summer’s Comic-Con season is almost upon us and your costume is not going to make itself. But before you squeeze into your tights and cape, do you need to worry about copyright infringement? This blog...more

Is Graffiti Ineligible for Copyright Protection Just Because the Act of Tagging is Illegal?

After reports of a settlement proved premature, designer Moschino S.p.A. and its creative director Jeremy Scott have moved for summary judgment on the copyright claims filed last year by street artist Joseph Tierney, better...more

Death Knell for Knockoffs and Counterfeits?

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Define the Test for Copyrightability of Designs on Useful Articles - The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the question that, as one Appellate Court characterized, has had the...more

Say Yes to the Redress: A Potential Shift in Copyright Law May Arm the Fashion Police

Until recently, social media has been one of the only recourses for fashion designers and labels that have had their designs knocked off. Take the Acquazurra “Wild Thing” sandal, for example. Acquazzura is a high-end shoe...more

Protecting Fashion through Copyrights: The Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Cheer Uniform Designs Are Protectable

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will address the issue whether apparel can be protected by copyright law—a question described by the petitioners in the case as “the single most vexing, unresolved question...more

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