Supreme Court: Iconic American cheerleading uniform design protected by copyright

For more of Quartz’ take on the Supreme Court’ opinion in Star Athletica v. Varsity, click here.

A number of fashion brands, designers, and industry groups—including the Fashion Law Institute, Narciso Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America—filed amicus briefs in support of Varsity Brands, and to represent the fashion industry’s concern that a ruling in favor of Star Athletica would be a threat to designers’ ability to protect their designs.

Susan Scafidi, a professor at Fordham University and founder of the Fashion Law Institute, provided expert advice in the trial when the case was still at the District Court level and says this should not have been an “enormous, Supreme Court-worthy case garnering international attention.”

The Supreme Court ruling won’t change anything for designers, she says, but does preserve the little protection they have come to rely on for their designs. “The fashion industry barely has protection over fabric prints, lace patterns, jewelry, belt buckles, or handbag clasps,” says Scafidi. That’s because designers cannot copyright the cut or shape of three-dimensional garments in the US. “Copying is rampant and protection is limited,” says Scafidi, “so the industry needs to hold onto the little protection it does have to prevent design piracy.”