Sometimes IP law is imperfect for protecting fashion design. The law is dynamic and needs to change as society changes. A pinch and a tuck is exactly what it needs. Congress has been considering a new 3-year right of protection for fashion designs under Chapter 13 of the Copyright Act. Senator Chuck Schumer’s Innovative Design Protection Act., S. 3523 (the “IDPA”) would allow a fashion design to be protected if it includes original elements of an article of clothing or accessory or an original arrangement of elements. U.S. designers would be able to enforce their rights against a “substantially identical” design. This protection differs from design patent because partial elements of an article, such as a sleeve, are outside the protection, since only the article as a whole would be protected. Under the proposed law, legal action could not be commenced until 21 days after the designer submits a notice to the alleged infringer.
This law, if passed, would be great for fashion designers. Copyright registration is easier to obtain than trade dress or design patent protection. The costs for professional assistance are the most affordable, and with some coaching, is something a layperson could do without requiring a lawyer for every filing. Protection within reach is a great advantage for young designers on a shoe-string budget.
We’ll keep an eye on this legislation, hoping it is passed in 2013.