IPR plays a huge part in the Fashion Industry, It is the one place where the brands are being identified by their designs. We all know the way the 3-stripes of Adidas are being misused by many to sell to the lesser knowledge buyers. But it is ok for a big brand like Adidas to let some unethical manufacturers copy bits to make a minor profit, but when you are making a breakout in the fashion industry of fashion it is important that your product has been given the right protection. You owe that bit to your product, so we have brought you this article Copyright For Fashion Designers so that you understand the rights your products possess in IPR.

Trademark and Fashion designing

Trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of the same associated with a product or service which is used as market differentiators from similar products or services. Any product or service will always be identified with a name and logo in order to distinguish it from other similar products on the market. Designs are not the exception, as they will always bear a label distinguishing them from other creations.

These names and logos can be trademarked based on the type of products (clothing, shoes, accessories, fabrics, etc.). The slogans of advertising campaigns for each product can also be protected through trademark registration. Recently trademarks that generally do not fall within the standard categories but include marks based on visible signs (colors, shapes, moving images, and holograms) or non-visible signs (sounds, scents) considered as Non-conventional Trademarks or Non-traditional Trademarks can also be trademarked. Therefore, perfumes, fragrances and other aromatic products that play an important role within the world of fashion can also gain IP protection.

Trademark law not only protects a brand’s right to revenue but also helps consumers distinguish between genuine products and counterfeit products.

Copyright protects original artistic works. A design can be protected as an artistic work; specifically, as a graphic work which includes painting or a drawing. Textile designs may benefit from copyright protection but an actual dress (when made) does not. In this situation, it will be necessary to rely on the Designs Act 2003 for protection. Copyright protection is also likely to be available for works of artistic craftsmanship, such as one-off fashion garments and jewelry. However, for producing or making multiple copies of items, design law should have relied rather than copyright law on upon on.

Copyright protects artistic expressions “that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.” This is commonly referred to as the separability rule, which was developed from the 1954 case of Mazer v. Stein. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that Balinese statuettes that formed the bases of lamps were copyrightable because the aesthetic work (the statuette) was separable from the functional article (the lamp). Even though they could be used as lamp bases, the statuettes had their own artistic merit and could be protected as such. [7]

Copyright in the fashion industry

With regard to copyright in the fashion industry, in February 2008, Marc Jacobs was accused of plagiarizing an amateur Swedish artist named Gösta Olofsson. Olofsson, who passed away in 1982, ran a petrol station in a small village and made a living by selling postcards, scarves, and other tourist paraphernalia. Marc Jacobs (or rather one of his accessories designers) ripped off the design. The matter was eventually settled outside court when Jacobs offered monetary compensation to Gösta Olofsson’s son. In this case, the artistic work–Olofsson’s original painting–exists beyond and entirely separate from the utilitarian aspects of the scarf. Hence design is subject to copyright laws. [8]

However, some cases aren’t as straightforward. It can be argued that the panthers and pansies on Givenchy t-shirts are aesthetic works that exist separate from the utilitarian function of the garment (covering the body and dressing the human form). And yet we still see countless copies! What about a flower motif rendered by sequins on a Chanel dress? Or an ornate zipper on a Balenciaga backpack? Is the zipper “artistic” enough to be considered separate from its functional purpose, or does the purpose–to open and close the bag–supersede its aesthetic character? In most cases, the courts will decide that the separability rule does not apply to apparel because creative expression is usually inextricably tied into the functional elements of the garment. [9]

Patent and Fashion designing

Patents protect new technologies that are incorporated into products. Some examples of Patents include the technology used to manufacture CROCS shoes, wrinkle-free fabrics, UV-filtering textiles that are resistant to fire and water-repelling textiles. [10] Patents are essential to the successful commercialization of inventions, particularly that require large investments to complete development to the commercial stage. The artistic creations cannot be patented, so not many designers have a need for patents.

Adding devices to clothing is fast becoming a trend in this age of technology, which means patents for new devices and new methods of use for devices are an option worth considering. American designer Lauren Scott is currently adding radio frequency identification tags to her line of children’s wear. The tags have previously been used to track shipments of freight. In clothes, the tags could carry medical information in case of an accident or emergency and could also prevent abductions by triggering an alarm if a certain perimeter is breached (e.g. tags inside pajamas could trigger readers placed at various locations in a house if the child leaves the premises). [11]

Novozymes technology

Novozymes, a Danish biotech company specializing in enzymes and microorganisms (www.novozymes.com), pioneered the use of enzymes in the treatment of fabrics. Though not previously involved in the fashion industry, in 1987 the company developed and patented a technology for the treatment of “stonewashed” denim jeans. This technology is based on an enzyme called cellulose, which removes some of the indigo dye from denim so as to give the fabric a worn look. Within three years, most of the denim finishing industry was using cellulose under license from Novozymes. Today, Novozymes’ technology for improving production methods and fabric finishing has been licensed worldwide. The company holds more than 4,200 active patents and patent applications and pursues a pro-active licensing strategy to maximize royalty revenue from these IP assets.

The Italian company Grindi Srl. Invented Suberis, an innovative fabric made of cork, said to be as smooth as velvet, light as silk, washable, unscratchable, stain-resistant, waterproof and fireproof. After testing and codifying the treatment, Grindi filed an international patent application under the PCT in 1998 to protect its unique product in a large number of countries. The Suberis fabric is used in the manufacture of clothing, footwear, and sportswear, as well as in many other applications.


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