Why Introduce New Intellectual Property Rights In A Highly Competitive Market?

from the just-wondering dept

Almost exactly three years ago, we had an article noting how many in the fashion industry, unlike the entertainment industry, had realized that a lack of intellectual property protection actually benefited them. While big name designers saw cheap knockoffs hit the shelves quickly, that only helped to drive more innovation. The designers would keep on innovating, trying to outdo each other, while building up their own brand reputation — which would justify some of the premium they charged for the “genuine article” (quality also plays a role in the price — the knockoffs generally aren’t nearly as well made). Many in the industry seemed to admit that it helped drive creativity and innovation — which seems like a great result. Unfortunately, however, some fashion designers have moved in the wrong direction since then. Last summer we had an article about how some designers were increasingly getting upset about the knockoff issue. It seems like this year it’s gone one step further. David Levine alerts us to a Wall Street Journal article about those in the industry now pushing for a change to copyright laws that would allow fashion designers to copyright their clothing designs. As people in the article note, this would have the effect of slowing down fashion innovation, because designers wouldn’t have to continue innovating. That’s the opposite goal of the intellectual property system — yet very few people seem willing to point this out. If you subscribe to the theory (as many people do) that the government should only intervene in markets where there is a clear market failure that needs to be corrected, then you have to question why this law would ever make sense. You have what is clearly a competitive industry that is making a ton of money and continues to thrive and innovate at a rapid pace. That’s great. Now, people want to introduce additional government regulation to slow down the rate of innovation by letting those already at the top of the market stop innovating and rest on their laurels. That doesn’t sound good for the overall industry, consumers or the economy.


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Comments on “Why Introduce New Intellectual Property Rights In A Highly Competitive Market?”

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10 Comments
Susheel Daswani (user link) says:

I completely agree...

The proposition for a new IP right in fashion designs isn’t about a lack of innovation in the space – it is really about these designer wanting to create another revenue stream. The patent and copyright system have a much firmer basis because it is relatively easy to create an exact copy of a functional manufacture or process (protected by a patent) or a expressive work (protected by a copyright). Someone can make an exact copy of the latest Vera Wang, but whomsoever tried to pass off their knock-off as an actual Vera Wang would likely be castigated. Trademark law is all we need in this instance (as I believe the article noted).

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: But more IP rights = Better

But that is not the only possible way it could swing.

for companies that already own the product…they don’t have to put as much into R&D because they already have a valuable property (just take an overall look at the mainstream music industry for examples of this. the RIAA thinks they have the music listening public by the balls so they think they can get away with charging $17 for 15 tracks and about 10-12 are just filler for the few good tracks)

for no one else can copy their product…they can let the quality slack off without fear of a superior copy coming along and stealing their thunder (this is big fear some people that play football video games due to EA’s recent exclusive rights deal on NFL licensing)

chris (profile) says:

R&D? they're freaking clothes!!!

WTF do you have to research and develop with clothing?

fashion, like art, is a medium. what was the last technological advance in painting or sculpture?

yeah, you can paint with space age inks or sculpt with space age material and make clothes with space age fabrics, but at the end of the day, designing clothes is like painting or sculpting.

at the risk of sounding like i know more about fashion than a straight guy should, and using a jonathan swift style exaggerated example:

lets get clothing designs covered by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, so that TV shows and websites about creating new looks using knockoffs and secondhands are considered “circumvention” and therefore illegal.

it looks to me like some of these designers want to start this year’s trend, then have a monopoly over that trend, so no one can make cheaper and more specialized versions (juniors, plus sizes, big and tall, etc) and you have to buy all of your stuff from the designer, at designer prices.

i am getting a patent on the “little black dress” and the “blue suit”. those guys from IBM will owe me huge royalties.

john smith (user link) says:

Intellectual Property Rights

pioneerlegalservicesllc@gmail.com
Pioneer Legal Services LLC is an emerging techno-legal consulting firm which provides premier legal support services to leading lawyers, corporate and law firms in the global market. It is making a real difference in the fields of Intellectual Property Rights, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Web Services by offering fast, reliable and affordable solutions to its clientele.

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