Copyright

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

U.S. Supreme Court Eliminates Laches Defense for Damages in Patent Suits

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, held in a 7-1 decision that the defense of laches is not available under the Patent Act to bar claims for damages. SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby...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

We’ve Got the Copyright, How ‘bout You? Supreme Court Protects Cheerleader Designs

We previously wrote about the copyright battle between two of the largest cheerleader uniform manufacturers. Plaintiff Varsity Brand, Inc. claimed that Star Athletica, LLC had infringed its copyrights by manufacturing...more

Alert: Supreme Court Creates New Test That Could Grant Broader Copyright Protection to Clothing Designs

On Wednesday March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the decorative elements of a cheerleading uniform – zig-zags, stripes and chevrons – are protected under copyright law. In this 6-2 written...more

District Court Does Not Have Unlimited Discretion in Assessing Reasonable Attorneys’ Fees

Addressing attorneys’ fees in the context of a breach of contract claim, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed the district court’s limited award of attorneys’ fees, finding the award inconsistent with the...more

State Law Cannot Blur the Line Between Patents and Copyrights

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit determined that a plaintiff could not use a state law claim for unfair competition to protect a valve design, because federal copyright law preempts such a claim. Ultraflo Corp....more

Brewery and Beer Distributor Sued over Promotional Contest

A North Carolina woman has commenced legal action against Anheuser-Busch, LLC (“Anheuser-Busch”) and its North Carolina distributor, R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company (“R.A. Jeffreys”), in connection with Anheuser-Busch’s...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

Federal Court of Appeal upholds interlocutory injunction directed at retailers of set-top boxes loaded with copyright-infringing...

As reported previously, the Federal Court issued an interlocutory injunction on June 1, 2016 directed at retailers of set-top boxes that are configured, or “pre-loaded”, with various applications that provide their users with...more

Usenet Server Owners, Operators Are Not Directly or Secondarily Liable for Copyright Infringement

Addressing copyright infringement issues, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in defendants’ favor on direct, vicarious and contributory infringement claims. Perfect...more

Intellectual Property Ownership: when you don’t know what you DON’T have (Part I)

In our last communication entitled “Intellectual Property: when you don’t know what you have,” we explored how businesses often fail to recognize valuable IP rights they own, and therefore, fail to appropriately protect those...more

Help! Someone Copied My Stuff!

At some point in this digital age, almost every individual or business in the creative space will discover that somebody has copied them. You may see it yourself, or you may get the stomach-dropping “Doesn’t this look an...more

The Laches Defense Loses Its Grip in Patent Law

Until today, laches had been available as a defense in patent litigation without much debate. The defense often arose in the context of demand letters: a patentee would threaten an accused infringer, but would then wait...more

New Lawsuit Highlights Risks of Using User-Generated Content

In 2014, Anheuser-Busch ran a contest on Facebook in which consumers were invited to submit photos of themselves “acting natural.” The contest rules stated that entrants could only submit their original works, and that the...more

Lanham Act Cannot Be Used to Create “Species of Mutant Copyright Law”

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court decision granting summary judgment to a defendant that its use of digital files did not infringe plaintiff’s trademark or trade dress for its CD-Gs...more

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