Schools may have fewer choices in purchasing cheerleading uniforms in the future. Varsity Brands, Inc. (“Varsity”) and Star Athletica, LLC (“Star”) have been battling over the design of cheerleading uniforms and whether the designs of the uniforms are protectable under the Copyright Act. For background information about the case, please view my previous blog post.
On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. (Case No. 15-866) that Varsity’s designs might be eligible for trade secret protections. The Court found that decorative elements of cheerleading uniforms could be protected by copyright law if they “can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article.”
The Court did not, however, rule that the designs are protected under the Copyright Act. The case will be sent back to the District Court of the Western District of Tennessee to determine if the designs meet the standard and are protected under the Copyright Act.
It is still to be determined how this ruling impacts schools. If the trademark claim is upheld, schools likely would have fewer manufactures from which to purchase similar uniforms. This, in turn, could result in price increases for uniforms with popular designs.