Supreme Court to hear copyright fight over cheerleader uniforms
“The US Supreme Court said yesterday it will hear a case between two cheerleader uniform suppliers that could affect the state of copyright nationwide.In 2010, Star Athletica published its first catalog of cheerleading uniforms and was promptly sued. Varsity Brands, the world’s biggest manufacturer of cheerleading and dance-team uniforms, alleged that Star Athletica’s uniforms violated Varsity’s copyrighted designs.
The clothiers’ conflict could have wide effects in the fashion world and beyond. A trio of 3D printing companies have already filed an amicus brief asking the high court to take the case, seeking clarity on how to separate creative, copyrightable designs from utilitarian objects that aren’t subject to copyright. …
An amicus brief (PDF) filed by 3D printing companies Formlabs, Matter and Form, and Shapeways asks the Supreme Court to take up the matter to provide clarity on where to draw the line on ‘conceptual separability’ between what is and isn’t copyrightable.
3D printing is a ‘revolutionary process’ that’s transforming industry, the brief states. While some objects are clearly copyrightable and others aren’t, there’s also a lot of gray area—and the tests aren’t clear.
Printed objects that are ‘purely ornamental and nonfunctional,’ like sculptures and jewelry, are clearly copyrightable. Designs that are ‘purely functional,’ like a wrench, are not. But ‘a significant percentage of 3D printed objects combine utilitarian and artistic elements in complex ways,’ and the 3D printing companies would like a clear test so they know what their liability is.”