ROLE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN FASHION INDUSTRY
- Atharv Lama
"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different." - Coco Chanel
Intellectual property or IP is defined as “an intangible property” which is the result of original thought/intellect, such as literary and artistic works, inventions, designs, symbols, names, and images etc.
Intellectual Property Rights or IPR are exclusive legal rights given to individuals to safeguard their original works of creativity. These rights are intended to respect, encourage, and develop market fairness and creativity. To stop third parties from utilizing their trademark, patented innovation, copyright work, or design without permission, one may rely on IP rights.
With the help of IPR, an individual is granted full protection against any unauthorized use or misappropriation of their creations; to maintain balance and prevent them abuse of power, the rights are only granted for a short while.
The IPR are essential for preserving the fashion sector and for protecting products from duplication and imitation. The fashion industry cannot truly flourish until inventors and artists are granted protection for their creations and are shielded from copying. The fashion industry is as fiercely competitive as any other industry. Some of the highly secured designs may be compromised due to a single weak connection and a fashion business could lose an entire season due to that one stolen design. Since it significantly depends on the inventiveness of its designers, the fashion industry preserves creativity. The original fashion house might lose millions if a priceless, unique idea is stolen.
Piracy is one of the most pervasive activities in the fashion business. It comprises forging a replica of a fashion designer's original creation or illegally copying their original work. It is classified into two types:
Knockoff It implies that another individual is stealing a fashion designer's idea and selling it for a lesser value. Since there is no attempt to pass off the actual article, it is not illegal; if it can be established that the resemblance comes perilously close to misleading someone, legal action can be taken.
Counterfeit To replicate a product or piece of clothing identical to the original and sell it for a price less than the original product in order to violate the original designer's trademark is known as “counterfeiting.” Anyone caught trying to sell a counterfeit item can be subjected to legal consequences for their activities.
The different kinds of IPR that apply to the fashion industry
There are three different kinds of IPR that have proven to be incredibly advantageous for the fashion industry.
Fashion Industry & Trademark
Any word or symbol that helps a brand or an organization stand out from other brands or organizations of a similar kind is referred to as a trademark. A trademark builds brand recognition for a product, ensures its quality, and promotes it. In essence, it helps to differentiate a product from its copies. In the fashion industry, a trademark protects any brand name, logo, or element of clothing. Owners of goods must design them in a distinctive way, such that they attract buyers and aid in marketing, in order to obtain trademark protection.
Fashion Industry & Copyright Act
Fashion is an artistic endeavor that requires expression, imagination, and innovation. The Copyright is similar legal protection for any work that incorporates uniqueness and invention. It is expressly stated in India's Copyright Act of 1957.
Fashion Industry & Patent Act
Patents are issued for novel innovations that benefit the public in general. Although artistic innovations cannot be patented, the emergence of rapid technological progress in the fashion industry, patents protect new technology that are incorporated into goods.
Relevant Case Studies
1) Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Haute Diggity Dog
This lawsuit was brought against Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, a corporation that manufactures and retails pet products nationwide, by Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. (LVM), that creates high-end luggage bags, handbags, and accessories, alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution, copyright infringement, and other similar violations. Among other things, Haute Diggity Dog creates chewable plush toys for dogs that are allegedly parodies of well-known luxury brand names, like Louis Vuitton Malletier. The specific Haute Diggity Dog chew toys in question are miniature replicas of LVM's LOUIS VUITTON handbags with the name "Chewy Vuitton."
Surprisingly, the US court of appeals ruled that Haute Diggity Dog had not violated Louis Vuitton's copyrights or trademarks because their product line was a successful parody. The court found that this product range distinguished itself from those made by Louis Vuitton.
2) Puma v. Forever 21
Puma has launched a lawsuit against forever 21 for allegedly violating the copyright and design rights of three pairs of sneakers they made under the names Creeper Sneaker, Fur Slide, and Bow Slide. These sneakers were a part of the Fenty line, which was created by pop star Rihanna Fenty. The aspect that set this case apart from others was how the matter of copy right infringement was handled with regard to the fact that the product in question was particularly developed by a celebrity and was also given public endorsement through her name. The court noted that neither Rihanna's name nor her involvement in the lawsuit were included in the copyright application.
In conclusion, the court determined that the claim of trademark infringement was properly rejected, stating that the mere fact that a particular celebrity was associated with the product, cannot serve as justification for copyright protection, which was properly granted on the basis of design uniqueness.
The Fashion Industry and Intellectual property are intertwined. Creativity and the intellectual capital that has been invested in the fashion industry are its driving forces. Since this industry has only lately accelerated its expansion, the regulations have not yet significantly emerged, despite the fact that they must be delicately maintained for a beneficial and sustainable life. To extend the exclusivity of any fashion design, intellectual property legislation is required.
Increased revenue from the sale, licencing, and commercialization of unique new products, improved market share, higher profit margins, and a decreased risk of violating the intellectual property rights of others are all benefits of protecting that intellectual capital in the form of IP assets.
Atharv Lama is third year student at Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai.