The zigs and the zags, the pleats, and the stripes have all been cleared for copyright protection when it comes to cheerleading uniforms. The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands that the separable features of a cheerleading uniform could confer copyright protection to the specific design of a cheerleader uniform. However, significantly, the court ruled that the features only need to satisfy a deceptively simple two part test.
Under intellectual property law, cheerleading uniforms are considered utilitarian or useful objects, which are generally not legally protectable, meaning that the idea of a cheerleading uniform, like the idea of pants, or a shirt, is not protectable. However, the Court ruled that the design elements, such as graphics, stripes, or other design elements, may confer copyright protection to a cheerleading uniform, such that another maker cannot copy the design.