by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, diane von furstenberg, fashion, hypocrisy


Designer Leading The Charge For Fashion Copyright... Caught Copying Someone Else's Design

from the well-how-about-that dept

For many, many years, we've pointed to the growing body of research on how the fashion industry thrives, in part, because of its lack of copyright. However, time and time again, we hear about attempts by big designers to add a special fashion copyright. This makes no sense. The purpose of copyright law is to create incentives to create new works. Yet, the fashion industry is thriving. It's highly competitive and very innovative, as designers keep looking to outdo one another. At the same time, the "knockoffs" help spread the concept of "what's fashionable" up and down the economic spectrum in record time. This is not an industry that needs "incentives" for creativity. The only reason to put in place such a law is to prevent competition, not to encourage more innovation.

Now, leading the charge for such copyright protection is famed designer Diane von Furstenberg, who beyond being a top designer, is also president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). CFDA has been the major promoter of such a copyright for clothing design, and runs a site called You would think that von Furstenberg would be quite careful to only to come up with her own design ideas. Not so fast. This story is actually about a year old, but Public Knowledge just brought it to our attention. It seems that von Furstenberg was caught blatantly copying another (less well known) designer's design.

Of course, as soon as the story broke in the press, von Furstenberg had her lawyer call up the other designer and offer to pay up. As the National Post, notes, the level of hypocrisy is striking:
Let's remember that when she and other designers accuse chains like Forever 21 and Anthropologie for alleged garment plagiarism and talk about the intellectual property issue in general, copycatters are vilified as "pirates." Yet when a garment from DvF's own brand is found to be uncannily similar to another designer's, it's positioned as an accident, an honest mistake.
We've seen this before, over and over again. The strongest defenders of monopoly rights so often are caught blatantly violating the laws themselves... and then twist themselves into knots to try to explain why their position is consistent -- insisting it was just a "mistake." Once again, all this really highlights is that the point of IP laws is to let incumbents keep down upstarts, rather than encouraging new creativity.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Is it a surprise that the most ardent copyright expansionists are the most ardent copyright violators?

    What these guys really want is a permanent amnesty for their own cartels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:39pm

    the last word as read by said incumbents


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 1:12pm

    They cant even keep fake Gucci off the streets so how are then going to enforce fashion copyright? Will there literally be fashion police? And does this mean that I can no longer beadazzle my clothes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Free Capitalist (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 1:41pm


      Will there literally be fashion police?

      I believe CA tried a "suede denim secret police" force in the 80's. However it was disbanded around the time "House" music became popular.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    fjfonseca (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 2:38pm

    Lets take a moment...

    ... please.

    There are two sides to this story:

    1. The totally foolish "Stop Fashion Piracy" campaign from Diane von Furstenberg that is doomed from the beginning and that was been received, since its inception, with a cold shoulder by the industry. The campaign will go nowhere because fashion design depends on pattern design and next season's patterns are not really decided by designers but by another body of the fashion industry that are the real trend setters.

    The only difference is that Diane von Furstenberg's materials are more expensive and of higher quality than those of, say, H&M but basic pattern design is the same and it is pattern design that sets the trends.

    Having said that...

    2. Companies like H&M and Zara (to name the most important ones) rely on what comes out from the several fashion weeks to cash in. Their advantage is that they work with a "just in time" stock system and they are able to produce what's "in" in the fashion world swiftly.
    These companies do copy, in detail, what is trendy while using less noble materials and within a scale that makes their products available at a price that is more attractive.

    Why aren't these companies being accused of plagiarism or piracy?

    Because they help to create fashion conscious consumers that, if and when, will step up the economic ladder and will be future consumers of high street fashion brands.

    Can it be true that Diana von Furstenberg committed an honest mistake?
    Do I believe she did?
    No way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 4:23pm

    she stole from a little company, and now is back peddling on being caught, she should pay out the ass for "stealing" the other designers idea, like most absolute hypocrite, shouldn't she be fired??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mkam (profile), 23 Jul 2010 @ 4:41am

    What about TV?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mkam (profile), 23 Jul 2010 @ 4:43am

      Re: What about TV?

      Stupid enter button.

      I thought all fashion designers were making their money on TV now. I know my wife watches quite a few of those 'we need you to make a dress in 12 hours' shows. Reality TV at it's lowest bar if you ask me but I guess if people enjoy it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mobile phone straps, 6 Nov 2010 @ 2:27am

    So without further ado, we bring you the particular newest members of our stylish Fashion Stalker set together with hope that they inspire you to mobile phone straps make this fall the particular season to try it all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Efforts to copyright fashions will deprive people who are taller or fuller than most the ability to enjoy wearing clothing they sincerely want. One off, one per person, copies of designer fashions in sizes the designer does not sell need to be protected. The designer would then have an incentive to offer a wider range of sizes, or offer custom service themselves. Bruce

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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