Copyright Law

SCOTUS takes cheerleader uniform case that would also affect 'cosplayers' at comic conventions

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Nominally, a federal appeals court decision that the nation’s top court agreed Monday to review is about whether the design elements and color blocks in a cheerleading uniform can be copyrighted.

But a U.S. Supreme Court decision could affect a broad array of costumes, including those made and worn by “cosplayers” at comic conventions, as well as the general apparel industry, says the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog.

Last year’s opinion (PDF) by the Cinncinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerns what one party in a petition for certiorari described as the “most vexing, unresolved question in copyright law.”

That is to say, where does function end and prohibited design begin?

Tests for answering this question vary throughout the country to such an extent “that a costume replica may be noninfringing at a San Diego convention but infringing in New York,” said an amicus brief submitted by Public Knowledge in the Varsity Brands Inc. v. Star Athletica LLC case. “The situation is absurd, abstruse, and—owing to the historical lack of copyright protection for any article of clothing—functionally obfuscated from the people whom it stands to impact most.”

The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters also have stories.

See also: “2nd Circuit OKs Trademark Protection for French Designer Christian Louboutin’s Red-Soled Shoes” “Federal judge tells Skechers to stop selling shoes ‘confusingly similar’ to Adidas”

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