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Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc.

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
15-866 6th Cir. Oct 31, 2016
Tr.Aud.
Mar 22, 2017 6-2 Thomas OT 2016

Holding: A feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection under the Copyright Act of 1976 only 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 fixed in some other tangible medium of expression -- if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated; that test is satisfied here.

Judgment: Affirmed, 6-2, in an opinion by Justice Thomas on March 22, 2017. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Kennedy joined.

SCOTUSblog Coverage

DateProceedings and Orders (key to color coding)
Jan 5 2016Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due February 8, 2016)
Jan 21 2016Order extending time to file response to petition to and including March 4, 2016.
Feb 5 2016Brief amici curiae of Public Knowledge, et al. filed.
Feb 8 2016Brief amici curiae of FormLabs Inc., et al. filed.
Mar 4 2016Brief of respondents Varsity Brands, Inc., et al. in opposition filed.
Mar 23 2016DISTRIBUTED for Conference of April 15, 2016.
Mar 23 2016Reply of petitioner Star Athletica, L.L.C. filed. (Distributed)
Apr 18 2016DISTRIBUTED for Conference of April 22, 2016.
Apr 25 2016DISTRIBUTED for Conference of April 29, 2016.
May 2 2016Petition GRANTED limited to Question 1 presented by the petition.
May 10 2016Consent to the filing of amicus curiae briefs, in support of either party or of neither party, received from counsel for the petitioner.
May 17 2016Consent to the filing of amicus curiae briefs, in support of either party or of neither party, received from counsel for respondents.
May 26 2016The time to file the joint appendix and petitioner's brief on the merits is extended to and including July 15, 2016.
May 26 2016The time to file respondents' brief on the merits is extended to and including September 14, 2016.
May 26 2016Brief amicus curiae of Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, Inc. filed.
Jul 15 2016Joint appendix filed. (Statement of costs filed)
Jul 15 2016Brief of petitioner Star Athletica, L.L.C. filed.
Jul 21 2016Brief amici curiae of Public Knowledge, et al. filed.
Jul 22 2016Brief amici curiae of Professors Christopher Buccafusco and Jeanne Fromer filed.
Jul 22 2016Brief amici curiae of Intellectual Property Professors filed.
Jul 22 2016Brief amicus curiae of American Intellectual Property Law Association in support of neither party filed.
Jul 22 2016Brief amicus curiae of New York Intellectual Property Law Association in support of neither party filed.
Jul 22 2016Brief amicus curiae of Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago in support of neither party filed.
Sep 2 2016SET FOR ARGUMENT On Monday, October 31, 2016
Sep 9 2016Record has been requested from the U.S.C.A. 6th Circuit.
Sep 14 2016Brief of respondents Varsity Brands, Inc., et al. filed.
Sep 15 2016Record received from the U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Michigan ( 2 Boxes ).
Sep 19 2016Brief amicus curiae of Intellectual Property Owners Association filed.
Sep 21 2016Brief amicus curiae of United States filed.
Sep 21 2016Motion of the Acting Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument filed.
Sep 21 2016Brief amici curiae of Professors Jeannie Suk Gersen and C. Scott Hemphill filed.
Sep 21 2016Brief amici curiae of Fashion Law Institute, et al. filed.
Sep 21 2016Brief amicus curiae of Chosun International, Inc. filed.
Sep 21 2016Brief amicus curiae of Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. filed.
Sep 28 2016CIRCULATED
Oct 11 2016Motion of the Acting Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument GRANTED.
Oct 14 2016Reply of petitioner Star Athletica, L.L.C. filed. (Distributed)
Oct 31 2016Argued. For petitioner: John J. Bursch, Caledonia, Mich. For respondents: William M. Jay, Washington, D. C.; and Eric J. Feigin, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, Washington, D. C. (for United States, as amicus curiae.)
Mar 22 2017Adjudged to be AFFIRMED. Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Kennedy, J., joined.
Apr 24 2017JUDGMENT ISSUED.
 
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    On Friday, April 3, Justice Stephen Breyer spoke to students at the United Nations International School in New York City. The justice gave his talk remotely via video call, while self-quarantining at home in Massachusetts with his wife and daughter.

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