The protection and enforcement of legal rights in inventions, designs, and other artistic works are within the jurisdiction of Intellectual Property Law. A vast variety of novel and imaginative creations might be included under this umbrella term. Within this article, the author has zeroed in on intellectual property rules as they relate to the fashion industry. India’s apparel industry is a major economic driver. Since imitations quickly follow the introduction of anything novel, safeguarding creative output is essential. The fashion business is flourishing and growing all over the world. Fashion is built on original designs, ground-breaking innovations, and ground-breaking trends. These days, the term “fashion” refers to much more than just clothing, including accessories, hairstyles, makeup, and more. The annual output of the city’s fashion capital is a fresh batch of designs that need the supervision of an authoritative judicial system. The manufacturer is shielded from legal action regarding the product’s use, appearance, and design characteristics or print thanks to intellectual property rights. Products, including those in the fashion sector, rely heavily on theft and piracy. The fashion industry can only thrive in its truest sense if creators’ rights are respected and their work is safeguarded against imitation. The apparel sector may greatly benefit from three different sorts of intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights encompass a broad spectrum of protections, including copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
Piracy in the fashion industry is quite common. Replicating or selling a knockoff of a designer’s original creation is considered fashion piracy. There are two types of piracy in the fashion industry:
A knockoff is an almost-identical replica of an expensive designer garment that is sold at a reduced price because it lacks the designer’s name. Legal action may be taken against it if it can be shown that the likeness is almost fooling a person, but this is not illegal because there is no attempt to pass off the actual goods. A good example are stores like Forever 21 and Zara that sell replicas.
To infringe on a designer’s trademark, counterfeiters create near-identical copies of the original product and sell them at a reduced price. The selling of counterfeit goods is illegal, and the government and designers have spent millions of dollars on litigation to prevent this practice. Multimillion-dollar lawsuits have been successful for luxury brands including Chanel, Coach, Cartier, Tory Burch, and Gucci against counterfeiters of their distinctive wares. That being said the following sections will discuss how the various IP laws have benefited the fashion industry.
FASHION INDUSTRY AND COPYRIGHT
Copyright refers to the inalienable legal right to one’s own ideas and creations. To rephrase, copyright is the entitlement to make copies of something. This ensures that only the original creators, or those to whom they provide permission, can legally reproduce the product. All creative works, including designs, songs, and books, are protected by copyright. Copyright Act of 1957, Section 2(c), protects the creative design. It might be anything from a painting to a drawing to a sculpture. The law protects works that are one of a kind. Copyright protection for the design is granted for 10 years beginning on the registration date. An artist’s contributions are recognised and rewarded in the fashion industry. Therefore, it is essential that the the work itself, be safeguarded by copyright regulations. However, this law cannot be used to protect the clothing, footwear, or any other product associated with the fashion business; only the creative design or architecture may be protected.
According to the court’s decision in Unicolor, Inc. v. Urban Outfitters, Inc., the print pattern on a woman’s clothing can be protected by copyright, making any company that makes an identical product liable for infringement. Because of this, it is impossible to create an original print pattern for clothes or footwear. Copyright protection typically lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 60 years after their passing. Also, in Ritika Apparels v. BIBA, Ms. Ritu Kumar lost money because a competing fashion label stole her ideas and used them in their own products. However, BIBA was able to avoid legal repercussions by taking advantage of a provision in Section 15(2) of the Copyright Act, which states that the copyright in a product that has been reproduced more than fifty times without first being registered with the design authorities is considered lost permanently.
FASHION INDUSTRY AND PATENTS
Inventions that are generally useful to people are rewarded with patents. It’s a term for anything new that uses advanced manufacturing techniques to create apparel and footwear. New, timeless materials may be an indication of technological prowess if they are protected by several patents. In other words, this will entice potential investors and partners. In order to protect their innovations, inventors might apply to the government for a patent, which is a form of property ownership awarded by the state. There are three types of patents: those covering useful inventions, those covering useful plants, and those covering useful designs. This licence grants the creator the exclusive right to market, produce, and use their creativity for a certain period of time. The patent invention offers 14 years of protection for design patents and 20 years of protection for utility patents from the date of filing, after which time it enters the public domain and can be economically utilised by anyone without infringing the patent. Although patenting an invention is a time-consuming and costly process, it may be used to protect a game-changing discovery that will have a lasting impact on the fashion industry and resist the march of technological progress. Six Design Patents were granted to granted to Balenciaga. Since creative works are not innovations but rather fresh creations, it turns out that the fashion industry and the patent industry are not compatible. If we’ve never had shoes before, we can’t patent them; nevertheless, if the design of the shoes isn’t novel, we won’t be granted a patent. Due to the high stakes involved in obtaining a patent in the industrial and technological sectors, patents are often granted only after years of intensive study and development.
FASHION INDUSTRY AND TRADEMARK
According to Section 2(zb) of the Trademark Act of 1999, any mark that can be graphically depicted and that distinguishes one person’s products and services from those of another is a trademark. This can include the physical characteristics of an item, its packaging and even its colour combination. Any distinctive word, name, symbol, design, or colour combination used in commercial trade is legally protected as a trademark. The “distinctive Gucci GG Logo” and the “Gucci Trademark” are two examples of how Gucci products may be distinguished from those made by competing brands. A trademark may be quite important since it helps to maintain the premium associated with a brand’s name. The reputation of a company’s brand is extremely important to major apparel corporations. mode of sale. To distinguish and identify items in the marketplace, businesses often employ trademarks, which may be anything from a single word or phrase to an entire logo or distinctive colour scheme. The “distinctive Gucci GG Logo” and the “Gucci Trademark” are two trademarks that set Gucci products apart from those of competitors. A trademark may be quite important since it helps to maintain the premium associated with a brand’s name. Brand equity is extremely important to large fashion companies. Dimensions, shapes, colours, and even methods of selling can all fall under the protection of trademark law. Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc. is perhaps the most typical illustration.
When the American company Romag sued the larger watchmaker Fossil for trademark and patent infringement, it quickly rose to prominence. A trademark is used to evaluate consumer interest and attention since the products are novel and one-of-a-kind. Though trademarks’ significance in logos and symbols is little, many Indian artists and designers favour trademark protection above design and patent protection. This is because patents for new fashion ideas are few, thus companies will do whatever to protect their reputation. Moreover, trademarks are quicker, simpler, and cheaper for creators of new products and styles.
As a result of globalisation and deregulation, the fashion industry has flourished and is poised to become a significant economic factor throughout the world. Registration might be used by designers to protect their work from being copied or exploited in any way. An enormous amount of money is spent on developing and disseminating new styles and trends in the hopes of boosting their economic success. To safeguard against dishonest competitors stealing your most original ideas and for your company’s long-term success, it’s important to go through the registration process. Therefore, the entrance of an idea signals the advent of a new quality that has to be protected by intellectual property in order to prevent plagiarism. More outsourcing jobs and franchises held by Indian brands are expected to move to India in the coming years. It is expected that the country’s rapid economic growth, expanding industrial sector, and growing tech workforce would make it the next great opportunity in the global apparel market. To put it another way, the Indian market has the potential to be the next big thing. Therefore, there is an increased requirement for safeguards and guarantees from the state and its laws. Although it may seem difficult, plagiarism may be completely eliminated. If intellectual property rights are protected adequately, their infringement will be extremely difficult to accomplish.
Author(s) Name: Avantika Mandar Chavan (P Jindal Global University)