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March 2017 Archives

Supreme Court Finds Copyright Protection in Cheerleader Uniform

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court reached a decision in the case of Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., in which the Court held that artistic designs incorporated into cheerleading uniforms are eligible for copyright protection. Prior to this decision, artistic elements of clothing items were typically not copyrightable under the "useful article" doctrine, because they were not considered sufficiently separable from the functional clothing items to which they were attached.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Laches as a Viable Defense to Patent Infringement

In a 7-1 opinion authored by Justice Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court held today in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, No. 15-927, that laches is no longer a viable defense to patent infringement. SCA accused First Quality of infringing its patent directed to adult incontinence products, and, as expressly permitted under 35 U.S.C. ยง 286, sued for six years' worth of damages. First Quality countered that that action was barred by the equitable doctrine of laches because SCA knew of First Quality's alleged infringement in 2003, yet waited until 2010 to bring suit.

Re-Register Your DMCA Agent in 2017 to Stay in the "Safe Harbor"

Internet service providers (ISPs) rely on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ("DMCA") to shield themselves from liability for infringing content posted on the websites that they host. The DMCA's "safe harbor" provision allows ISPs to provide interactive websites where users can exchange content, ideas and images without the risk of being liable for copyright infringement. But to take advantage of the safe harbor provision, ISPs must register their DMCA agent with the U.S. Copyright Office and comply with other basic requirements.

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