David Jacoby in NYLJ: ‘Star Athletica’ Three Years On

Culhane Meadows’ New York partner David Jacoby recently authored an article for New York Law Journal that details what we’ve learned from SCOTUS case Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. and how it has impacted the clothing industry.

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

The 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision ‘Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands’ was supposed to clarify longstanding confusion over how design elements on functional objects, like clothing, can be copyrighted. But in the three years since the decision came down both the lower courts and legal opinion have varied widely in interpreting the decision.

There was much anticipation when the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in and then decided a case addressing whether design elements of clothing could be protected by copyright, Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1002 (2017).  Over time, the range of copyright-eligible creations had expanded greatly to include creative works such as motion pictures, recorded music and choreography. But when it came to items that people wear, no matter how creative or how costly, fashion was a copyright no-go in the United States. Would fashion join movies, records and ballet in the circle of copyright protection?

After the decision, commentators were divided. Some felt Star Athletica approved a path to relatively quick and inexpensive protection for clothing design, at least in some situations. Others felt the holding was so limited that it added only modest potential protection for fashion designs. A little more than three years on, what has been the decision’s impact?

Read their entire article HERE to learn more.


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