is an attorney with Leason Ellis. Her practice focuses primarily on issues related to copyright, trademark, trade dress and unfair competition. Lauren has experience working with clients, ranging from start-ups and small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. She has had the pleasure of working with clients in a diverse array of industries, including apparel, software, electronics, telecom, energy, toys, food and beverage, finance, and credit card services.
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This case concerns Star Athletica’s alleged infringement of Varsity Brands’ purported copyrights in the design of certain cheerleading uniforms. Under the Copyright Act, because clothing possesses an intrinsic utilitarian function (covering the body, providing warmth and protection from the elements, etc.), clothing designs historically have not been protected by copyright unless the claimed design is physically or conceptually separable from the garment’s utilitarian features. The district court found in favor of defendant Star Athletica, concluding that the design elements in Varsity Brands’ cheerleading uniforms were not separable from the uniform’s function. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed, and in doing so, devised a new test for assessing the copyrightability of a design of a useful article.