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Recent Sixth Circuit Opinion Separates Design from Work Within Copyrights

In a recent Sixth Circuit opinion for Varsity Brands, Inc v Star Athletica, LLC, a different approach to copyrights was seen for the first time – design can be separated from the utilitarian aspects of a work. This is the […]


Burchman, J.J.In a recent Sixth Circuit opinion for Varsity Brands, Inc v Star Athletica, LLC, a different approach to copyrights was seen for the first time – design can be separated from the utilitarian aspects of a work. This is the first time that a court has adopted such ruling in terms of separating the two within a copyright.

One of the most interesting aspects of the opinion can be found on page 17 citing, “the Copyright Act protects the ‘pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features’ of a design of a useful article even if those features cannot be removed physically from the useful article, as long as they are conceptually separable from the utilitarian aspects of the article”.

To read the full opinion, CLICK HERE.

To learn more, contact our Intellectual Property Department Chair Anita G. Fox at afox@fraserlawfirm.com or 517.377.0837. Over the past three decades, Anita has managed complex cases in federal and state courts in Michigan and nationwide, spanning literally from coast-to-coast and in more than 20 states.