Fashion - Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Within the fashion industry, intellectual property is not enforced as it is within the film industry and music industry. Robert Glariston, intellectual property expert at Creative Business House ( organization specializing in fashion and trademarking), mentions in a fashion seminar held in LA that "Copyright law regarding clothing is a current hot-button issue in the industry. We often have to draw the line between designers being inspired by a design and those outright stealing it in different places." To "take inspiration" from others' designs contributes to the fashion industry's ability to establish clothing trends. For the past few years, WGSN has been a dominant source of fashion news and forecasts in steering fashion brands worldwide to be "inspired" by one another. Enticing consumers to buy clothing by establishing new trends is, some have argued, a key component of the industry's success. Intellectual property rules that interfere with the process of trend-making would, in this view, be counter-productive. On the other hand, it is often argued that the blatant theft of new ideas, unique designs, and design details by larger companies is what often contributes to the failure of many smaller or independent design companies.

Since fakes are distinguishable by their inherent poorer quality, there is still a demand for luxury goods. And as only a trademark or logo can be copyrighted for clothing and accessories, many fashion brands make this one of the most visible aspects of the garment or accessory. In handbags, especially, the designer's brand may be woven into the fabric (or the lining fabric) from which the bag is made — this makes the brand an intrinsic element of the bag.

In 2005, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a conference calling for stricter intellectual property enforcement within the fashion industry to better protect small and medium businesses and promote competitiveness within the textile and clothing industries.

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