Thursday, March 23, 2017

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

SCOTUS Changes Fashion Law Forever--

Until now, no case hailing from the niche of fashion law had stepped onto the U.S. Supreme Court stage.  A decision this week has changed that.

The Star Athletica v. Varsity Brand case has become a trailblazer for copyright in the fashion industry. Just yesterday, the SCOTUS found decorative items--specifically those common on cheerleading uniforms--to be protectable under copyright law.  This ruling is contrary to years of cases in lower courts, where opinions have continuously determined decorative elements of clothing were inseparable from the garments themselves.   

In the only apparel-related case to ever come across the docket, the Supreme Court made a determination which could change the fashion industry forever.   Law360 noted, "The question before the justices was how courts should decide when such “separability” exists, an issue that has split lower courts. Fashion companies pushed for a looser approach that would allow them to protect more apparel with copyrights; consumer advocates called for a tighter approach, meaning less protection and more competition."

The fashion companies won. 

With this ruling, designers now have a gateway to protecting the artistic elements of their designs, and drawing a long-awaited distinction between their unique work, and a useful item (clothing).  Surely this case will set the stage for more litigation, as designers will have firm ground to stand on when exercising their vigilance in protecting their work. It may also set the stage for shocking the conscious of the counterfeit market. 

This has been quite the fight for those of us knee-deep in the fashion law industry.  What will fashion law conquer next?

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