Fashion designing is the kind of art that creates clothing and accessories fashion designers create with their creative minds. They try to use their mind in creating new designs for clothes and materials, but they should not limit their mind just to the field of fashion designing. Still, they should know their rights and values to protect their designs from being copied, and for this, they need to understand the Intellectual Property (IP). The Indian Fashion Industry is flourishing across the entire world. Fashion is not just confined to garments and clothes but also expands broadly to affluent goods and products. Every year the fashion industry creates these new products and clothes. Through intellectual property rights, they will get the knowledge to protect their creation from being copied. These fashion industries invest huge amounts of money in making products, so it is essential to protect them.

In the present article, we will discuss the similarities and connections between fashion and law, the importance of intellectual property rights in the field of fashion and how to protect the creation from being circulated and copied.

Fashion and Law 

The most common case seen in the fashion industry is plagiarism or piracy of products. This means that when the original creation of prominent fashion designers is being copied by other people or other products being made by similar ideas from the original products. This copying can be classified into two kinds, namely:

  1. Knockoffs: It means that some other person is copying the idea of a fashion designer and selling it for cheaper rates. This ain’t illegal, but If the owner proves that his work was copied, they can issue a case against them. Further, creation to create something original that they call their own. The fashion industry is an IP resulting from putting their minds and concentrated industry, continuously bringing about and materialistically using their creative ideas and innovation. However, intellectual property right varies from country to country. For instance, in the United States, the laws and regulations will differ from Indian laws.
  2. Counterfeit: This simply means copying the designer’s exact idea of the product or cloth to sell them at lower prices. If they prove them wrong, they can file a case against them.

When these two types of cases happen, it becomes mandatory for the owner to protect their original work with the help of IPR. A few Acts were introduced to protect these works: the Design Act, the Copyright Act, the Trademark Act and The Patent Act. They work against the copying of the designs and work of the owner.

Through IP Laws, these works can be protected in various other ways. They are as follows:-

  • Trademarks: Trademark is a branch of IPR that makes sure that identity has a special logo or a brand sign or any other mark to indicate a product and make a difference from the other companies and designers. The Trademark law is not only for the protection of logos and brand names for designers but also other striking features of a product. Trademarks can be put on the garments; for example, they can be on the buttons or the collars. Trademark law has also colour, size, shape, features, special design etc., that has been done on the product can be shown anywhere on the product or the introduced trade dress, which means that the company can mention the dress material, we can see many brands doing this like Louis Vuitton has a logo as LV, Gucci has a sign of its own, YSL etc. brands have come up with their brand logos and no other the company can copy them.
  • Copyrights: Copyright is that branch of IPR that guarantees protection for literary, creative and artistic work which has already been published and put to use on the internet. It is clearly mentioned under the Copyright Act, 1957 in India for a time of the artist’s lifelong period and 60 years even after he passes away. It plays a major role in motivating many content creators for not just copy the ideas of others in an illegal way and make their own ideas and creativity and make their own. As we can clearly see this under, the prevalent example that we can see on the internet is sharing of memes. However, it’s a very small matter for everyone, but copying the idea of some other content creator is illegal. The owner can sue that person on the grounds of copyright infringement.
  • Trade Secrets: It refers to the main concepts with the use of software tools for fashion design, computer-implemented, software-based business models and logic management of the whole value chain. With the help of protecting information by IP, a business can focus on a well-established marketplace and manage its market share, profit margins, differences, and innovation to avoid the risk of IP Infringement. IP protection of assets creates an overall image in the eyes of the investor and consumer. Trade secrets vary from a list of main suppliers and buyers to software tools for fashion designing. In some fashion businesses, core trade secrets protect the computed designs and materials from being stolen or copied by other companies. For example, the Spanish retail fashion chain, information technology (IT) system to make the time duration of the arrival of the products ZARA uses a proprietary short. Within 48 hours of email received, they transfer their products to the retailing stores.

IPR and Fashion Goes Hand in Hand

Intellectual Property Rights is very important for the rapid increase and multiplication in the fashion industry. The most important aspect for fashion designers is to have a creative mind. Many stores are there in the market, and in these stores, various types of dresses and materials with different designs are made, but not all the products need to be sold at the price at which they are made and have a profit. So, to make sure that the materials get more sales, the designer has to use their best creation of mind in their designs. Having excellent and creative imagination skills helps the brand and company to achieve higher goals and brand naming in the market. People do piracy and malicious art to copy a specific design that affects the original designer’s contents. Therefore a country must invest in making the intellectual property rights are more substantial in their country so that the creation of the owners gets protected and is not used for illegal things.

Case Laws:

  • Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Atul Jaggi: In the present case, the Delhi High Court restrained the defendants for the influence and passing off their famous trademarks “LOUIS VUITTON” and “LV” by using identical marks and granted damages. Through Trademark, designers can protect logos and brand names and specific features of products.
  • Ritika Apparels v. BIBA: The case of Ritika Apparels has been a unique one. Rather than lifting the design from the other party’s creation, one party copied, reproduced and sold that by having their name. The party claimed the case in court and moved to the court alleging copyright infringement. Have good day defendants who lived in the same design to defend section 15 (2) of the Copyright Act 1957 and submitted that the Act does not make to infringe as the original right owners Ritika apparels has lost the legal ownership to the product of more than 50 numbers of products by industrial production. Since the same design was not registered under designs act Ritika apparel. But using the loophole under IPR, BIBA escapes from having any liability.
  • Christian Louboutin v. Mr. Pawan Kumar & Ors.[15]: The present case was one of the most important cases of all time where the brand shoes were copied and were sold at lesser prices, which led to a significant loss for the brand. Christian Louboutin red sole shoes are quite popular among celebrities and people, and the red-coloured high heel shoes are quite a rage among the customers who have seen their favourite star wearing them. It has been declared that Louboutin is one of the most expensive brands of all time and the quality of these products are very distinct from that of other brands products. Plaintiff Christian Louboutin moved to the court seeking permanent compensation and claimed from the two stores were Kamal footwear and Adhara steps to stop selling counterfeit products of red sole shoes. The court, in the judgements, held the defendant company to pay a total amount of rupees 10.7 lakhs, while they were rejected permanently from selling the counterfeit again. The judge declared Christian Louboutin as a well-known mark. The infringement of the Louboutin mark and successful prosecution of the defendant’s shoe company owners are the best examples of how a designer or a brands owner needs to protect his or her Trademark through IPR.

Conclusion: We can conclude by saying that registering the company or brand name helps the owner protect their work and creation from being copied and used illegally. Therefore it is essential that a fashion brand must register itself to prevent the misuse of its ideas and designs. Although the process for registering the brand can be a bit expensive and could take a long time in the long run, it will help the designers protect their products. The government should also start to watch the new forms of copying the brand creation and make laws against them to protect the original work. Educating themselves is an essential factor for counterfeiters and the owners to understand the importance of their innovation. Therefore, the generation of an idea makes fabulous creative dresses and products but should also be educated enough to know IP and stop plagiarism in their work.

Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.

Author

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    Duaa Hashmi is an undergraduate student studying B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) from the Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, Malappuram, Kerala. She aspires to solidify her career in the field of Corporate Law, mainly focusing on Intellectual Property Rights, Human Rights and Cyber Law. Besides her academics, she displays a keen attentiveness in Intellectual Property Law and Human Rights Property Law and all the issues around these topics.