Getting inspired by someone andsomething is accepted and expected in the modern world. Sometimes thisinspiration is more of a direct imitation rather than a creative extension ofthe original idea. There are laws that have been framed to act as watchdogs forthe creative ideas, but it is difficult to keep an eye on each and everydevelopment that takes place every minute around the world. In case of fashionindustry, there are many infringements of copyright issues and it is not onlythe small time retail shops that breach the intellectual property right of abig brand, but even the vice-versa for the same also holds true. Fashionindustry is one of the most creative fields and it is the innovative ideas thatare the backbone of this industry. A design for apparel is the combined resultof sincere efforts, flawless skills and intelligent creative ideas. Plagiarismmeans a lot more than mere stealing in the world of fashion.
Some fashion connoisseurs believethat imitation in itself is an acknowledgement that the original design isbrilliant. However, the designers have started taking stern steps against theinfringement of intellectual property. Recently, a fashion company from UnitedKingdom filed and won a legal suit against a store for copying a woman'sapparel that were launched by the fashion company. The design rights in fashionindustry occupy a significant place under the intellectual property rights, asit is the creative idea that makes the final product popular. The legislationwith regard to fashion world differs in various countries.
The European Union has strict lawsunder its legislation, which rule that a design is to be protected to the levelthat it is new and has individual character. Under the EU legislation, designthat has not been registered is regarded new if no other design similar to ithas been launched before the public prior to the launch of the design claimingprotection. A design is deemed to have individual character if the overallimpression of the informed user differs from the overall impression by anydesign available to the public before it was available. The rulings deliveredby the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in recent case have givena ray of hope to high-end designing houses that often fall prey to plagiarismby retail outlets. In United States of America, the Innovative DesignProtection Act (IDPA) protects any new design for a short three-year term solong as it is truly original. Thus if the design has been seen before, itcannot be protected under the IDPA. Some of the countries are still following arather anachronistic view with regard to copyright issues in fashion industry.In most part of the world, Intellectual property law does not extend toarticles of clothing, which leaves a little choice for the designers if someonecopies their original work.
The fact is that the copycat ideasare not only unethical, but such acts of copying amount to some serious troublefor the high-end fashion stores. As per the available global trade figures, theshare of fake products in global trade is approximately 8 percent. Theintellectual property right infringements are a serious threat to the globaleconomy and also the global fashion business, as stealing of the design hasdirect impact on the business of a particular brand. When the imitation ofluxury brands is available in the market at cheap price in abundant quantity,these luxury brands lose value in the emerging markets. And thus the Europeancountries are giving a serious thought to raising the issue of infringement infashion at international platform.
Apart from changing the law, creating awareness among the customers is equally important, as most of the customers are unaware that by deliberate or accidental purchase of counterfeit goods amounts to violation of law. The market of counterfeit goods is widespread and in some countries like Thailand a museum of counterfeit clothes is under operation, which displays more than 3,500 different items, in fourteen different categories, openly disobeying the rules involving trademarks, patents or copyrights. In such a scenario it is difficult to impose intellectual property rights, as the markets run brazenly.
The new and gullible designers are also at loss with open infringement of intellectual property rights. Some fashion giants unhesitatingly imitate designs of the new designers, as most of the new entrants do not have time or finance to get involved in the legal battle with the experienced fashion houses. There are internationally known names among the fashion retail houses that have been dragged to the court by some companies for matter involving copyright infringement. Apart from the big companies and organisations, there are also small designers who have accused certain fashion houses of copyright violation. Unfortunately, these fashion stores still enjoy a long list of loyal customers, as the prices of counterfeit products are much lesser than the original. Thus the violation continues unabated.
In developing countries like India, fashion piracy brings huge business. The U.S.A. has mentioned in a report '2013 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets' that some markets in India are notorious in global piracy and violation of intellectual property rights. Another developing nation China is also facing the same problems when it comes to fashion piracy and the counterfeit apparels are not only sold in China, but all around the world. The semi-organised markets in these countries result in huge loss to the global fashion industry.
Creativity is a gift and this gift is a must to survive in the fashion industry. The infringement of intellectual property in world of fashion not only discourages the designers, but it also impacts the economy. The counterfeit apparel and textile markets are flourishing following rather lenient laws and unaware customer base. Not everybody can afford the high-end brands, and a less expensive version of these luxury brands is not only easily available, but is often what most of the people find worth spending money on.