Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc.

Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., No. 15-866, 2017 WL 1066261, at *13 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2017)


Although not on point for a Title IX blog, Cheer Athletes may be interested in knowing that  the Supreme Court recently upheld Varsity Brands claim that its competitor violated the copyright of its uniform design. Justice Thomas writing for the Court wrote,

that an artistic feature of the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work either on its own or in some other medium if imagined separately from the useful article. Because the designs on the surface of respondents’ cheerleading uniforms in this case satisfy these requirements, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Note, in Biediger v. Quinnipiac Univ., 691 F.3d 85, 103 (2d Cir. 2012), the Second Circuit upheld a decision by the District Court in Connecticut  that a university’s competitive cheerleading program did not count as a sport for Title IX purposes. The Second Circuit held that cheer,

is not yet recognized as a “sport,” or even an “emerging sport,” by the NCAA, action that would have triggered a presumption in favor of counting its participants under Title IX … Nor has DOE recognized competitive cheerleading as a sport; to the contrary, in two letters in 2000, OCR indicated competitive cheerleading is presumptively not a sport, while leaving open the possibility for a different conclusion with respect to a particular cheerleading program.