Cheerleading Outfit Design Not Copyrightable

On March 21, 2014, in Copyrights, by Brian A. Hall

UnIntellectual Property (UnIP): Copyright for Cheerleading Outfit

Give me a U, give me an N, give me an I, give me a P, what’s that spell…UNIP.  That is exactly what the Plaintiff was left with after suing a competing chearleading outfit provider for copyright infringement.  The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee held that there was no copyright for these particular uniforms because the design elements could not be conceptually or physically separated from the utilitarian function.  In doing so, the Court specifically held that “the utilitarian function of a cheerleading uniform is not merely to clothe the body; it is to clothe the body in a way that evokes the concept of cheerleading.”

The Plaintiff has appealed to the Sixth Circuit, who may apply a different standard or find that the design pattern or ornamentation is indeed enough to qualify for copyright protection, apart from any utilitarian function.

Plaintiff apparently needs to cheer harder.

Varsity Brands, Inc. v. Star Athletica, LLC, No. 10-cv-02508 (W.D. Tenn. March 1, 2014).


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