Intellectual Property Rights And The Fashion Industry Cultural Studies Essay

With a gross one-year turnover of $ 750 billion per twelvemonth the manner industry is at the head of the universe ‘s economic system. Unlike most other goods, people demand manner non for the added value or characteristic that a new point brings but for its ain interest. Peoples ( largely females ) of all ages pour over magazines demoing the latest famous person manners and so travel out to retail manner shows or browse online in hunt of something similar. This demand for the ‘latest manner of the rich and celebrated ‘ has transpired into a concern web with an influence across the Earth. This planetary concern has brought with it many legal issues. Particularly of import is the ‘copying ‘ of the famous person manner that the multitudes seem to desire. This essay will be broken into three parts. The first portion will analyze the current province of the jurisprudence both in Australia and other legal powers. The 2nd portion will inquire how the jurisprudence can be changed in Australia to give greater protection to the manner industry and the 3rd portion will look at whether or non this alteration is necessary for the industry to turn. I will reason that the jurisprudence needs to be reformed in such a manner that copying is prohibited but flocking ( following famous person manners ) is n’t.

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IP jurisprudence – the grounds for its being.

The standard statement for the being of rational belongings rights is that without them scribes will liberate drive on the originative attempts of others. Since most originative attempts are sold for economic addition absent any rational belongings rights the Godheads will see no inducement in making when others can copy their designs and net income from it. The market for books, films and music is protected from industrial copying in Australia by the Copyright Act. This act prevents the mass graduated table production of these originative plants without license or anterior blessing ( with certain exclusions ) . This protection, gives the industry the comfort of cognizing that it ‘s protected from the free-riding act of scribes. Albeit a originative work, the manner industry remains immensely unprotected in many parts of the universe. In Australia the Designs act of 2003 ( which replaced the designs act of 1906 ) is the primary signifier of protection of designs for the industry. It is helpful to observe at this point that the studies of designs are protected by the Copyright Act. Similarly, a new innovation in vesture for illustration a new stuff that can maintain one warm in winter and cold in summer would be protected by the Patents Act. This essay nevertheless is non concerned with those Acts of the Apostless and their advantages or restrictions. This essay is concerned with the protection of designs – designs, researched and manufactured by the large interior decorator houses and so copied by the high street for the multitudes.

In a command to modulate themselves from copying because of the absence of any Torahs to protect them the Fashion Originators Guild of America started self modulating the industry every bit early as the 1930 ‘s. Their method of ordinance was to hold designs registered with the Guild and any other house copying these designs d be boycotted by members of the club. The club ‘s activities were ruled as a misdemeanor of U.S. antimonopoly Torahs by virtuousness of a determination of the U.S. Supreme tribunal in 1941. What concern us though are non the contents of that instance, but instead whether the Guild ‘s attempts in protecting rational belongings caused an addition in invention and more frequent designs. Randal Picker suggests that the clubs attempts go to demo that there was a demand by the high terminal interior decorators for this type of protection. He goes on to reason that the really theory of manner agencies that the high terminal interior decorators would merely boom in a market which was to a great extent regulated. This is because they market goods to a niche of clients who want to hold what no 1 else has. These interior decorators offer their clients unique one of a sort merchandises and their clients buy these because of the prig entreaty – these clients want merely what others do n’t hold. If there is no protection for their designs these designs would be copied by the high street shops and so the snob entreaty of these goods will be lost. This means that these clients will non be willing to pay such high monetary values for these goods as they do non see a differential value in them. Although this copying has been around for about a century and a half the job is declining due to betterments in information engineering. The cyberspace provides coincident entree to manners worldwide particularly the European manner hebdomads where large interior decorators normally display their material and these are copied about instantly. The hapless quality of these transcripts means that some of these manufacturers can acquire the merchandises out to the market faster than the original interior decorators. This means that one time the interior decorators merchandises hit the market they have already lost their alone entreaty. Further, since this fast manner run-offs have become more extremely sophisticated ; the scribes can wait to even see which of the merchandises seem to sell the most before they decide what to bring forth and they can so bring forth these ‘trend puting points without holding to take on the hazard that their ‘investment ‘ might non pay off. The basic theory of rational belongings would happen this appalling. The large design houses spend 1000000s of dollars on wages for interior decorators, researching market tendencies and organizing expensive procedures and manner shows. Copyists nevertheless free drive on this work and bring forth cheaper replacements. Harmonizing to the traditional theory of IP this should take to an economic deterrence on the portion of the large manner houses doing them to research and bring forth less. However the converse is true. We see that the bigger manner houses continue to bring forth new creative activities every individual twelvemonth and the glamor of their merchandises merely addition. In order to understand why the criterion deterrence is non in topographic point we will necessitate to look at the theory of manner.

The Theory of manner

Fashion theory day of the months back several hundred old ages. The Haute Couture shops of France were the human dynamos of manner. No Oklahoman was an point launched was it copied in America and sold to a larger market for much cheaper. It is of import to do the differentiation between close copying on the one manus ( doing reproduction ) and take parting in tendencies on the other. Manner alterations frequently with some manners emerging as tendencies merely to be shortly replaced by other manners lifting rapidly to take its topographic point. The demand for manner is non simply a physical demand although some people will wish to purchase a new seashore when their old one tears or a new cardigan because their old one looks worn. Manner is more accurately a cultural look. Harmonizing to the manner theory – “ the theory of the leisure category ” – manner is normally adopted by elites with the intent of being different from the multitudes. The multitudes so admire and demands goods that will emulate the elites. Consequently the elites abandon the older manner, which has now been copied by the multitudes in favor of newer points that will separate them from the multitudes. This first theory of manner suggests that manner is driven by a an aspiration of societal mobility on one manus ( the multitudes seeking to emulate the elite ) and societal stratification on the other ( the elite seeking to separate themselves from the multitudes )

The other major theory is that of “ corporate choice ” whereby manner evolves through the corporate procedure where many people, through their single picks come to organize the corporate tendency in society. The procedure of tendency formation begins mistily with a few people purchasing something of a alone design in the emulation of a famous person and others copying it until a tendency is formed. This theory is non strictly about copying the elite, instead it is people following manner because they desire to be in manner and associate themselves with the latest manners and tendencies. This theory besides called the Zeitgeist theory works through a affair of single pick and corporate societal gustatory sensations.

Whatever the theory prevalent in society – one thing is certain and that is that the multitudes can non afford the manners of the elite. Very few people in our society can afford t – shirts from Armani and jackets from Polo Ralph Lauren. These big manner house trade names retail points at several hundred dollars each doing it unaffordable to the multitudes. Fast manner copying is the solution. The fast manner mercantile establishments like Zara and Forever 21 provide these tendency puting points at a fraction of the cost of the interior decorator houses. One must non be mistaken here that they make exact transcripts of these points, because they do n’t. Rather their in house interior decorators make inspirational pieces – following the same tendency but different. The points are visually similar to the 1s of the high manner houses and this is what many times has come before the tribunals under the Designs Act 2003 ( Australia ) . Many of these fast manner houses have shops on big high streets and have built themselves into a concern imperium.

State of the jurisprudence in Australia

In Australia until the 17th June 2004 designs were protected by the Designs Act of 1906. Harmonizing to the older statute law in order to register the design the design had to be:

‘Features of form, constellation, form or ornamentation applicable to an article, being characteristics that, in the finished article, can be judged by the oculus, but does non include a method or rule of building ‘

This statute law did non strike a balance between what are considered ideal aims of design statute law ; to protect designs form free siting rivals but yet at the same clip non stifle competition excessively much because invention is normally a development on a old design. The older statute law was besides impractical for the manner industry because of the nature of the jurisprudence itself. Harmonizing to the old jurisprudence the applier had to register a separate design enrollment for each fluctuation to the similar merchandise. This is impractical as many points of manner come in different colorss and sizes.

Further the design application needed to be examined by the designs office before enrollment was granted. This meant that designs had to be submitted before they could be registered. This excessively was impractical to the manner industry for a figure of grounds. First, by the clip the procedure of subjecting the design and enrollment was complete the point would already hold gone out of manner – given the comparatively fast lifecycle of fast manner. Further subjecting the designs would intend the designs would hold to be completed earlier. Usually designers work on their designs until the last minute before the official launch – working on supernumeraries until hours before the design goes public.

The old designs ordinance was clearly impractical for manner and the replacing statute law in the signifier of the Designs Act of 2003 hoped to press out some of the jobs. Under this act the manner industry benefitted to a great extent as protection was gettable for more than one design ( coloring material or size ) of the same merchandise. . However the official authorities fees for this is a drawback to the enrollment of more than one design of the same merchandise. Under the new act the fees for the first design is $ 200 and for every fluctuation of that design a farther $ 200. This heavy cost particularly for the mid budget manner houses is disadvantageous.

Further the new statute law permits the design to be registered even before a full scrutiny of the merchandise is undertaken. This gives clip for the manufacturers to tweak the designs even until the last minute before they are released. However, the scrutiny whilst non mandatory demands to take topographic point before the proprietor can take action against anyone who infringes on this design. Geting this review carried out is dearly-won, bing $ 360 per fluctuation of a design, and requires a batch of paper work ; in the signifier of exposure and a Statement of Newness and Distinctiveness explicating how this design is new and typical from any others on the market ( without which the registrar might non be satisfied that the merchandise is new and typical ) .

The tribunals have taken an interesting attack to the inquiry of designs in the manner industry. The first determination to be handed down after the passage of the Designs Act 2003 was the Federal Court of Australia ‘s determination in Review v Innovative Lifestyle Investments Pty Ltd and concerned a frock produced by Review and registered of which Innovative Lifestyle Investments produced an indistinguishable design. Justice Jessup found that the “ dramatic ocular similarity ” between the designs and the clip period in which they were produced ( the ILI frock coming out merely a few months after Review ‘s ) was an indicant that the registered design was breached. However, ciphering amendss was hard because Review did non wish to subject its gross revenues figures to the tribunal. Thus Justice Jessup awarded Review $ 7500 in amendss due to minor loss of repute as non being a trade name of originality and another $ 10,000 for ILI go oning the sale of the frocks after happening out about Review ‘s enrollment. ILI plans on appealing the determination so it will be interesting to see what determination the appellant tribunal hands down. This instance shows that whilst there is sufficient legal protection in Australia for the protection of designs there are several bounds to the protection. One such restriction is clip. It took about seven months for the Review design to be registered. Items which are non ‘timeless ‘ points like Reviews frock would hold the long passed their ‘fashion termination ‘ before the enrollment of these points were completed. Since action can non be taken until enrollment is completed this would intend that many interior decorators would potentially non be willing to take action as the merchandise would no longer be an point in stock. Further the demand by the Judgess to measure the loss in gross revenues would necessitate houses to supply in tribunal their gross revenues and projected gross revenues figures. This might be extremely sensitive information that they would non desire rivals, in the extremely competitory market, to cognize. Finally the value of amendss awarded in this instance was non high against ILI. If this instance is anything to travel by the model amendss are arguably non sufficient to discourage copying. Rather many scribes would see this as simply the cost of making concern.

Copying of points in the manner industry can besides be protected by right of first publication jurisprudence. The right of first publication jurisprudence commissariats are used when there is an artistic or craftsmanship entreaty to the garment. Protection under this proviso was brought before the tribunals in 2008 by Elwood a maker of voguish young person apparels. Elwood alleged that Cotton On had violated its right of first publication for two computing machine generated drawings ; the “ New Deal ” tshirt and the swing tickets attached to these garments. They alleged that Cotton On had sold several hundred tshirts which were visually similar to the “ New Deal ” tshirts. Cotton On conceded that the lone difference was the diction but otherwise they had copied the design drawings. The first inquiry the tribunal had to reply was whether the designs drawings were drawings and therefore entitled to protection under the act ( as artistic plants ) . The key to replying this inquiry was whether the diction was to be read as text or whether they were for pictural intents. The tribunal found that they were a pictural which was designed to convey acknowledgment to the Elwood trade name. Consequently the design drawings were the topic of the Copyrights Act.

After finding that the designs were copyright plants, the justice had to find whether they were original Elwood drawings. The justice found on the grounds that this was an original drawing as Elwood had spent several hebdomads and a batch of attempt making them and therefore they satisfied the originality standard. That being assessed the justice had to so work out whether what Cotton on had copied amounted to a significant portion. In his honor ‘s sentiment Cotton On had copied merely the form and the signifier of the point and non the diction or symbols of the design and therefore did non make a ocular similarity with Elwood ‘s design. His honor said that the grade of copying was in maintaining with Cotton On ‘s subject, “ same but different ” .

We see here that even through right of first publication jurisprudence it is difficult for the right of first publication holders to hold protection for their designs. The job of free equitation occurs when larger companies like Elwood carry out research and pass both clip and money making the trade name and ‘fashion statement ‘ . The scribes so free drive on this and tweak the designs somewhat so that they can acquire around the jurisprudence and as such they benefit from the difficult work and hazard pickings of other houses.

The Design/Copyright Overlap

Whereas right of first publication jurisprudence must embrace an component of artistic workmanship ( such as the digital designs of both the tshirt and the ticket in the Elwood instance ) or used to protect one off designs such as single garments or pieces of jewelry ; garments which are commercially marketed demand to be protected by the Designs Act. For many old ages authoritiess have been seeking difficult to underscore this differentiation. Their rationale suggests that when it comes to the form and visual aspect of designs the Designs Act is more appropriate and people desiring their points to be mass produced for commercial gross revenues should register their designs. To give consequence to this policy the authorities has included commissariats in the right of first publication act to shut the loopholes that existed in old statute law. Some of the commissariats intend that strictly two dimensional designs will hold double protection under the right of first publication and designs act. The other chief alteration is that people making plants of artistic workmanship can take whether or non to register the design ( but registering will by and large ensue in a loss of right of first publication ) . It follows that the design right of first publication convergence has been made clearer as a consequence of the amended designs act and alterations to the Copyrights Act. This has been the authorities ‘s effort to do the Torahs clearer and friendlier to give interior decorators a more protected environment in which to transport out their work.

It can be seen nevertheless, that the cost of registering the designs every bit good as the cost of enforcement of the registered design ( judicial proceeding and related costs ) are high in comparing to the amendss receivable particularly if the original interior decorator is hesitating to do excessively many ‘figures ‘ known to the tribunal. Further, particularly for claims under the Copyrights Act, the load of cogent evidence is really high. The tribunals have been really careful to construe the word ‘substantial ‘ and as was seen in the Elwood instance, although the right of first publication was found in favor of Elwood the tribunal held the result in favor of Cotton On because they said that the ocular visual aspect was non well similar to the Elwood design. This determination begs the inquiry as to whether points can be copied so long as the coloring material and diction has changed. Whilst this might be absolutely acceptable in other industries, Judgess fail to understand the singularity of manner, where it is non the point itself that affairs but the advertisement, selling and manner publicity than creates the tendency for the point. It is arguable so that when sing designs and right of first publication protection the tribunal should look profoundly into simply merely the design or drawing and concentrate on the value of the design or drawing in making the tendency manner. That said, it is hard to measure where precisely the tendency originated. Some argue that the tendency originates with the famous persons in Hollywood and others argue that the tendencies originate from the catwalks of Europe. These claims are nevertheless debatable as there are new and rising manner design centres around the universe particularly in Australia where the seasons are opposite to those of the states in the Northern hemisphere – doing it impractical to follow their tendencies. Thus the burden of turn outing who started a tendency might finally intend that there is no protection for any interior decorator since all fast manner designs are normally a fluctuation of some tendency or point.


The US lacks manner right of first publication protection wholly and this has given rise to an full industry that transcripts and pinchs. Manner industry specializers call this blatant buccaneering – looking great for inexpensive. One manner expert studies that a high street manner trade name like Forecer 21 transcripts and retails a $ 2000 frock for $ 80 and even places by the celebrated interior decorator Balenciaga worth over $ 600 dollars is copied and sold by Steve Madden for $ 60. The deficiency of equal precautions in the US as opposed to Australia is the cause of this. Experts say that the up and coming interior decorators are those at the biggest hazard because they can ill afford the statute law needed to contend back. The Australian jurisprudence can possibly take some thoughts for reform from the amendments suggested by the US Copyright ‘s office.

The first as a portion of several suggestions is that the protection clip frame be reduced from 10 old ages to 3 old ages. This is because the haute couture manner where points retail for several hundred dollars a piece will normally hold lost their exclusivity or reached the terminal of their manner extremum good within the three old ages. Although designs alteration fast a ground for the longer period of three old ages is to besides include authoritative manner points like the Guy suit by Hugo Boss.

Another reform that has been suggested that we might follow in Australia is that enrollment must be completed and take topographic point within three months from the day of the month that it goes public. This means that one time a design is registered the interior decorator has upto three months to organize for the review to be carried out for the point. This gives the interior decorator more flexibleness to make up one’s mind which designs are profitable and so make up one’s mind which 1s he wants to register therefore salvaging on the costs of statutory fees and paperwork.

Finally they suggest that there be a particular manner board set up to cover with the manner industry where a group of experts independently asses the point such that they can better understand the nuances of a new design as opposed to an old one and therefore the granting of enrollment will be fairer. Along with this Ralph Brown suggests that in order to do the implementing more low-cost this board be besides given the power to manage struggles. He argues that this be the ‘first case ‘ board that reviews the ailments that interior decorators have if they feel that their designs have been breached. This board should be entrusted with the power to do a non adhering directive ( after analyzing the grounds ) in favor of or against the claimant. He argues that because this board will be made up of manner experts they will be in a better place to analyze the breaches. If Australia had a system like this, so the Elwood determination might non hold been decided the manner it was. This board would hold been able to gain the nuances of the tendency manner which His Honor in that instance failed to see. In other words they will construe the jurisprudence in the context of the industry and non on the black missive analysis of the jurisprudence. He concedes that the tribunal is the ultimate arbiter and he argues that if one or both parties are non willing to settle based on the boards directive so they could appeal the determination to tribunal. The principle for this attack is that to salvage costs and repute most houses will settle out of tribunal. What is of import in any reform is holding a balance between protecting the designs of those whose spend clip, accomplishment and money developing the latest manners against the involvements of the multitudes who want to be in manner and who are willing to purchase the cheaper forgeries. The recommendations mentioned supra would decidedly let interior decorators to do the most of protecting their designs and their investings. In maintaining with the standard theory of rational belongings it is likely to increase investing in the industry. The big manner houses might be willing to come up with more designs, and assortments of designs because they feel that there is an cheap manner of implementing their rational belongings rights. At the same clip younger interior decorators will be willing to let go of more designs into the market because they feel that they are better protected and can implement their rational belongings system in a manner that is apprehensible and cost effectual to them.

On the other manus the method proposed supra would profit the high street fast manner houses as a trained oculus in the board is likely to be able to descry the difference between blazing copying and tendencies. Zara for illustration will be able to bring forth in the assurance that when they produce dresses a trained oculus in the design board will be able to easy state that theirs is non an imitation of an original frock but instead a fluctuation in manner but within the range of tendencies. This is something that the Judgess find difficult to understand because as Susan Scaffidi ( one of the most fecund manner jurisprudence authors ) put it “ it is difficult to hold a 60 – 70 twelvemonth old white adult male expression at an point of smart ladies manner and make up one’s mind whether or non copyright has been breached ” .

Another proposed reform is that the costs of using for design can be reduced by the authorities. The UWA module of jurisprudence expert has written that doing the enrollment procedure cheaper might be possible by keeping an on-line database of all the designs. He argues that if design enrollment is cheaper more interior decorators are traveling to seek it and this will be better for the rational belongings government.

The bigger manner houses besides argue that their “ merchandising point ” is that their manners are alone and those who purchase from them pay so much because of the snob entreaty of the point. They argue that with so much copying their alone designs become less alone and as such they have to maintain planing more points to maintain up the alone entreaty. Alain Wertheimer, Chairman of Chanel when asked about this in an interview to the Newsweek said that because of the huge sum of copying traveling on in the industry people are willing to pay less and less for interior decorator apparels as they see no snob entreaty in them. She says that as a consequence the bigger manner houses are happening it difficult to last and that her trade name excessively has had to undergo variegation to last. Donatella Versace reasoning on the same point says that Versace has had to diversify into fabricating lifestyle points and dinner sets excessively because of deficient protection by the authorities.

Raustiala and Sprigman, in their article the Piracy Paradox argue really strongly that a strong rational belongings government will non alter anything. They argue that people keep demanding the latest tendencies and every bit long as the demand is there the providers will go on to supply for it. They besides argue that the market will non alter by much because the multitudes will non be able to afford the original designs anyhow. They rationalise this theory to a fixed sum that people are willing to pay for points even if they were Zeitegists. This is because after a point manner becomes a luxury good and the demand is hence inelastic. Peoples, they argue, after a point are non willing to give necessities for luxury goods and will make one of two things, either do without it or be content with older aggregations.

They further argue in direct rebuttal to the claims of Alain Wertheimer and Donatella Versace that as a consequence of the large manner house designs being copied and reproduced people who demand the alone manner that comes with these interior decorator merchandises will maintain buying more and it is good for their concern. Their rebuttal to this is found in their theory of induced obsolescence. They argue that because vesture is about perceptual experience the demand for the goods is because the extremely stylish people have them and to non hold them means that one is unstylish. They besides argue that in line with the “ theory of the leisure category ” that one time more people have it those who demand alone merchandises will desire something else for the snob entreaty. They argue that this causes the rhythm all over once more. Thus we can see that every bit more points are copied this puts force per unit area on the manner houses to bring forth newer and more typical points. As such they can bring forth more frequently and their net incomes addition. Logically, it so flows that copying – whilst being a portion of the concern of the scribe houses is besides good to the big manner houses because the elite will maintain demanding newer manners and this increases their concern. This is called induced obsolescence by copying.

They further argue that by the multitudes flocking to purchase the latest manners there is an automatic tendency created and as such the big manner houses benefit because those on the fringy income lines will be given to buy the manner house trade names so that they can be a portion of the tendency. It is besides arguable that because the tendencies are so short lived for most of the insouciant wear aggregations ( an norm manner clip for the Armani Tees is seven months ) even if there are tougher rational belongings jurisprudence few houses would travel through the problem of registering all but their most authoritative designs.


In this essay we have looked at the grounds for the being of rational belongings by and large. We have so identified the theories of manner and seen how people demand in manner merchandises so the scribes employ interior decorators non to do an exact reproduction of the point but to do an point similar such that the point is a portion of the tendency. We have so considered the jurisprudence in Australia. We have looked at how the Designs Act and the Copyright Act play an of import function in protecting the designs and drawings of the interior decorators. We have identified that the tribunals have had a assorted attack to implementing right under the act. We saw in the Review determination the impracticality of taking an action to Court under the Designs Act. We saw that this impracticality was because the claimant needs to subject extremely sensitive figures for the tribunals to do a determination. Further, we saw that the Elwood determination in which it is likely that the justice misunderstood that what Elwood was making was puting a tendency for printed tees. We so argued that it is impossible for tribunals to happen the difference between tendencies and manners and argued that possibly we do non desire them to govern against manner. This paper besides suggested possible reforms to the jurisprudence and to the method in which the jurisprudence should be administered. These reforms flow from our old analysis of the method of disposal of the jurisprudence being impractical. It was proposed that the proposed methods would assist the disposal of the system every bit good as do a more streamlined an easier system for interior decorators to implement their rights.

However, when we consider the theories of manner as a whole and when we consider the article by Raustiala and Sprigman, we see that reform truly is n’t necessary. Reform will non dynamically change the face of the industry because most interior decorators will non travel through the problem of registering their designs as the design life rhythms are really short and the problem taken to register designs is non deserving their piece.

We besides see that reform is non necessary because copying ( otherwise referred to as tendency puting ) is helpful to the large manner houses. It stimulates designs for their merchandises and increases their gross revenues. We started off by stating that the industry is deserving $ 750 billion a twelvemonth. There seems to be adequate money to travel about. Any alterations which impose tighter control will merely cut down the value of the industry and force many out of concern.


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