Protection for garments in the fashion industry
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19 June 2012
Designers in the fashion industry work
hard in order to provide innovative ways to present garments. They are
able to bring fresh ideas to the industry and incorporate them into, at
times, complex designs that they wish to ensure others cannot copy. So,
what are the options for them when it comes to protecting their unique
designs in a fashion garment?
The garment itself cannot attract copyright protection unless as a
three-dimensional shape it can be classed as an artistic object, which
usually refers to sculptures, a work of artistic craftsmanship or an
engraving. Artistic works does not include industrial or manufactured
Copyright protection is also excluded from the design document to which
the article was made from by not allowing protection on the design
However, garments may qualify for protection under Registered Design
Rights and Unregistered design rights.
Registered Design Right
Protection under Registered Design Right can last for 25 years. In
order to qualify, the design in a garment must be 'new' and have
'individual character' as outlined by the Registered Design Right Act
A design will be classed as new if an identical design or a design only
differing in immaterial details has not been made public before. A
design will have individual character if the impression created on the
informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a
user by any design made available to the public before. However, this
will not apply where the appearance of the product is based on the
product’s technical function.
If a registered design right exists in a garment then it will cover the
appearance of the product resulting from the features of colours,
texture and surface details.
Unregistered Design Rights
Where a product is not registered, it may attract protection through
Unregistered Design Rights, which will last for 15 years from the end
of the calendar year in which the design was first created, or 10 years
from being made available for sale or hire.
However, this type of protection will not cover the colour, texture or
surface details, but will instead cover the overall or part of the
configuration or shape of a garment that has been made to a design
recorded in a document.
With regards to fashion garments, an unregistered design right can
arise automatically, however, will only cover the external/internal
shape or configuration of an original design.
This will allow a right holder to stop the copying of this aspect of
In order to benefit from a better form of protection that will cover
other parts of the design such as the colour and texture of it, then a
design should be registered as a design right. This will enable a right
holder to stop others from copying the parts of the design that create
the overall impression of the product.
About the Author
Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation,
commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We
are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual
Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of
Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the
largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-08-31 09:14:13 in Legal Articles