Speakers' at the recent 'Protect the Brand – fighting the copycats and fakes' conference in London, urged fashion and textile professionals across the industry to unite in a bid to dispel the consumer myth that buying fake fashion merchandise is a victimless purchase.
Delegates heard how the $900 billion global counterfeit industry is driven by unscrupulous, highly organised criminal and terrorist enterprises who exploit thousands of workers world wide, including children, in unregulated even brutal underground sweat shops. Meanwhile, designers and brands were urged to audit their design development trails, patent their inventions wherever possible then brand, protect and be prepared to publicly defend their intellectual property, IP, in a bid to deter the copycats.
Speakers' also appealed for higher legal and financial penalties in an additional attempt to discourage IP theft. Organised by Fashion Business International in conjunction with the suppliers' forum for clothing and textiles, the ASBCI, the conference assembled some of the world's foremost anti-counterfeiting and design theft specialists.
The conference chairman, Julie King, head of department fashion and textiles at De Montfort University in Leicester, opened the conference by explaining how celebrity culture has fuelled the consumer demand for fakes and copies.
Dids MacDonald, chief executive officer of Anti Copying In Design, ACID, herself a victim of design theft, described the scale of an illicit global trade that accounts for up to seven per cent of all world trade (World Customs Organisation). She urged designers and brands to “protect it or forget it” and with the expert help of such organisations as ACID, take action against the design thieves through, wherever possible, mediation or, if unavoidable, the courts.
Robert Glenn, product brand director for the unique Fortitube underwire bra retainer from Stretchline Holdings Limited showed by example how companies can proactively protect their IP by patenting as many elements of the product as possible.