Fashion is the result of human intellect since it is creativity that brings “novelty” to design. Creativity is not only limited to the act of designing, but also includes the ad campaign which is put together to achieve the competitive edge required for success. All of this intellectual capital linked to a unique brand becomes the greatest value of a fashion enterprise. However, many businesses do not protect their intellectual property, especially those in the fashion industry.
There are many factors that influence why designers protect their intellectual property, but perhaps the key factors are that fashion is constantly changing and designs tend to lose their value quite rapidly. Also important is the cyclicality of fashion, with styles, models, colors, prints and other elements often making a comeback and serving as inspiration for new collections and creations.
When we think about protecting intellectual property in the fashion world, one question may arise: What exactly can I protect? In the fashion industry there are endless creations that can be protected and we will address each of them next.
Any product or service will always be identified with a name and/or logo in order to distinguish it from other similar products on the market. Designs are not the exception, as they will always bear a label distinguishing them from other creations. These names and/or logos are what we record as Trademarks, and depending on the type of design (clothing, shoes, accessories, fabrics, etc.), the number of classes in which that distinguishing trademark will be recorded will increase as well. Even the slogans of advertising campaigns for each product can be protected through trademark registration. Furthermore, in many countries, scents can also be trademarked. Therefore, perfumes, fragrances and other aromatic products that play an important role within the world of fashion can also gain intellectual property protection.
Any three-dimensional design, such as a purse, garment, or accessory, can obtain intellectual property protection by being registered as an Industrial Model. Designs printed on fabrics can also be protected, not as an Industrial Model as there is no three-dimensional shape, but as an Industrial Design because of the combination of images, lines or colors that are incorporated into an industrial product for decoration purposes.
Invention Patents protect new technologies that are incorporated into products. Some examples of Invention Patents include the technology used to manufacture CROCS shoes, wrinkle-free fabrics, UV-filtering textiles that are resistant to fire and water-repelling textiles.
Trademarks, in addition to Patents and Industrial Designs, must be innovative in order to be entitled to intellectual property protection. This protection bestows certain rights, such as excluding third parties from operating the brand, model or drawing, as well as allowing actions brought against any person who, without the consent of the owner, produces, sells, uses, imports or stores them.
In addition, Copyright law allows designers to protect their creations through the registration of collections or of individual designs.
In conclusion, there are many ways in which fashion designers can protect their intellectual property. However, it is always important to seek professional advice to determine how and when to gain intellectual property protection.