EU Looks To Destroy Fashion Innovation; Begins Enforcing Fashion Copyrights

from the a-big-step-backwards dept

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing how innovation thrives in the fashion industry, despite a lack of intellectual property covering designs — as well as rampant copying. In fact, recent studies have shown that the reason the industry is thriving is because of the lack of intellectual property protection — leading to a much more dynamic and competitive environment, leading to a more rapid pace of innovation. However, despite all that innovation going on in the industry, some in the US have been looking to add new intellectual property laws that cover fashion designs. This makes no sense. The purpose of intellectual property laws is to encourage innovation and creation. If the industry is already thriving, there is no sensible rationale for then adding in those laws — unless it’s an attempt to slow down innovation and allow the current leaders some monopoly on the legacy business they’ve already developed. In other words, it’s corporate welfare for the leaders in the space, designed to squeeze out any innovations.

We may start to see just how pointless a move this was, as over in Europe they decided to grant some IP protections to fashion designs a few years ago. Those new regulations had not been enforced… until now. eoinmonty writes in to let us know that a UK designer has won a lawsuit against a retailer for selling clothing that was similar in design to that of a well known designer, Karen Miller. Now, some will argue that this kind of ruling doesn’t hurt innovation because the one getting sued was merely copying. But that’s assuming that the story only goes one-deep. As the research on the fashion industry has shown, when knockoff clothing is made, it simply encourages the brand name designers to continue to design something newer and better, pushing the industry forward. If Karen Miller doesn’t have to worry about competition, then she can rest on her laurels and has less incentive to continue to design yet another new line of clothes, slowing down the pace of innovation in the fashion industry.

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Comments on “EU Looks To Destroy Fashion Innovation; Begins Enforcing Fashion Copyrights”

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Erik Jan (profile) says:


This development should not come as a surprise. I think the driving force behind this is the fact that ¨luxury brands¨ (and I think every fashion designer can be seen as one) have been trying for some time now to enter into the the normal non-luxury (price wise) markets. We have seen designers producing one of collections for retailers like H%M, we increasingly find designer houses with shops on the highstreet selling to the semi affluent normal public. The effect of all this is that suddenly copying cuts directly into their profits, while only a short few years ago it did not. Not so long ago the luxury brands sold more or less exclusively to the rich. And in that situation copies are probably beneficial because they add to the ¨myth¨, they are proof of the fact that everyone wants a xyz fashion accessory, that it is in fact very specail. Now more or less everyone can have one, and the copy is a problem. Personally (as a non fashion victim) I don´t think there is much of a problem. The fact that the big luxury brands have started selling their stuff to basically everyone is the start of the end for the brands. They are after all status goods, and the status disappears when everyone can have one.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Fashion is Subjective

Copyright is sliding down the slippery slope. Applying the law to subjective content means that justice belongs to the “deep-pockets”. I can see it now, lawsuits where a three button designer is sued by a two button designer claiming that the use of two buttons is infringement but the three button designer claims it is substantially different.

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