On Wednesday, March 22nd, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in a copyright case, which clarifies federal copyright law surrounding whether features incorporated into the design of a useful article are eligible for copyright protection. In a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court held in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. that such features are eligible for copyright protection if they can be perceived as a work of art separate from the useful article and would qualify as an protectable work if imagined separately from the useful article.

“The Supreme Court’s opinion provides much-needed clarity and simplicity on the issue of whether and under what circumstances designs on clothing can be copyrighted,” said Kimberly Warshawsky, a partner at Ballard Spahr.

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