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Design piracy bill would raise cost of apparel & footwear, AAFA
Jun '09
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) this week transmitted a letter signed by over 40 U.S. apparel and footwear industry leaders to members of the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees voicing opposition to the recently introduced Design Piracy Prohibition Act, a well-intended but ultimately damaging piece of legislation that would bring great harm to the U.S. fashion industry and consumers who wear clothes.

"When consumers are faced with tough economic choices, clothes and shoes are often the first thing they stop buying,” said AAFA Board of Directors Chair Carol J. Hochman, CEO of Triumph Apparel Marketing. “This legislation does nothing to help the consumers and apparel and footwear producers who are hurting in this financial downturn. In reality, this bill would raise the cost of apparel and footwear, reduce consumer choice, and prevent stylish goods from getting to store shelves. This week's letter is important because it shows our nation's decision makers that this bill is lose-lose for everyone."

"If this bill provided any meaningful intellectual property protections for the fashion industry as supporters claim, why are so many industry mainstays against it?" asked Peter J. Gabbe, COO of Carole Hochman Design Group and former AAFA Board of Directors Chairman. "Our industry fully supports strong intellectual property protections, but this bill fails to provide any. The only protections it provides are for the established and well-recognized designers who have the legal resources to stave off any competition while holding a monopoly on inspiration."

The letter's signatories have and will continue to serve as the strongest advocates for practical and enforceable intellectual property protections for fashion designs. This legislation, however, would only outlaw the inspiration and creativity that has allowed fashion to flourish successfully in America.

First, the legislation utilizes overly subjective standards to determine both “originality” and “infringement,” which would create incredible legal ambiguity in the fashion industry. Second, the creation of a national registry for fashion designs would unduly burden designers with a costly bureaucracy and prevent them from delivering goods to market in a timely manor. Third, the legislation does not accurately reflect the true nature and importance of trends because it would afford a single designer the opportunity to possess a monopoly on any trend for three years.

"The U.S. apparel and footwear industry has spoken loud and clear," said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. "This short-sided bill does nothing to move the fashion industry forward. It only keeps it bound by broad legal ambiguity while not providing a single protection for fashion. We will continue to vigorously fight against this bill on behalf of the U.S apparel and footwear industry and educate Congress about the far reaching and negative impact this bill holds in store for the entire fashion industry."

American Apparel & Footwear Association

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