Supreme Court Clarifies Availability of Copyright for Applied Art on Apparel
On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al, No 15-866, clarifying that the Copyright Act protects applied artistic elements appearing on utilitarian objects, including apparel. In a ruling authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court held that: “[a] feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection only if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three- dimensional work of art separate from the useful article, and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work – either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression – if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated.”
*This alert was originally posted on Arent Fox's Fashion Counsel blog. To read this alert in its entirety, please click here.