In a decision that may have broader implications in the U.S. fashion industry, the U.S. Supreme Court in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. (No. 15-866) ruled that the decorative elements on a cheerleading uniform can fall within the scope of articles protectable by copyright.
In the decision handed down on March 22, 2017, Justice Thomas, writing for the majority, ruled that the decorative elements on the cheerleading uniforms (shown below) met the threshold requirement of being a “pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work” that can be granted a copyright if the copyrightable elements are sufficiently original and meet other requirements of the Copyright Act. Slip Op. at 10-11.