The U.S. Supreme Court might have just thrown fashion designers a copyright lifeline.

In its first-ever ruling on apparel copyright, the court said certain artistic elements of apparel can be protected.

The high court found that cheerleading uniform-maker Varsity Brands can attempt to protect two-dimensional design elements — like stripes, chevron patterns and colorblocking allegedly being used by rival Star Athletica. Experts said the broad decision could aid designers looking for legal tools to protect their work.

“My main hope when the court took this case was that it would simplify the copyright scheme for fashion, since lower courts have been all over the board as to what bits and pieces of apparel you could copyright,” said Kimberly Warshawsky, an intellectual property partner with Ballard Spahr. “This ruling simplifies things quite a bit because the court said essentially that if a design can be perceived as a separate work of art, it can potentially qualify as copyrighted material.”

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