The much-anticipated copyright dispute over cheerleading uniforms went in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday for oral arguments, bringing out the fashion maven in Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Breyer said Monday - find the full transcript here - that garments hanging in a closet "do" nothing, but "clothes on the woman do everything."
The case comes before the Supreme Court after Varsity Brands ("Varsity"), one of the largest designers and manufacturers of cheerleading and design uniforms, filed suit against smaller rival Star Athletica for allegedly incorporating the designs of Varsity's uniforms onto the surface of Star’s own cheerleading uniforms.
In 2014, District Judge Robert Cleland agreed with Star. Judge Cleland found that the designs and colors placed on cheerleading uniforms produced and designed by Varsity could not be conceptually or physically separated from the cheerleading uniforms themselves. Varsity appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit, which sided with Varsity, holding that “Varsity’s designs ‘may be incorporated onto the surface of a number of different types of garments, including cheerleading uniforms, practice wear, t-shirts, warm-ups, and jackets, among other things.’”
At this point, Star Athletica asked the Supreme Court to take the case, in order to clarify the copyright concept of separability, which often confuses scholars, as well as courts.
A ruling from the Supreme Court is due by the end of June.