Monday, August 9, 2010

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Law

Federal Fashion Law Could Be On The Way

After 2 less than successful bills were filed in recent Congressional sessions, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) along with 10 cosponsors have put in a new bid for legislating fashion designs. The bill (
S3728) will provide 3 years of coptright protection for new and original fashion designs. Unlike the previous bills (H5055 and H2196), this one has a much more stringent requirement for "new and original".

Although H2196 is still pending in a U.S. House Judiciary Committee, S3728, labeled the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, makes clarifications that the H2196 left unclear or unaddressed. Only deliberate copies substantially identical to protected designs would be prohibited. Neither consumers nor retailers would be liable under the bill for inadvertently buying or selling illegal copies. Also, an exception allowing home sewers to copy a protected design for personal use is included, i.e. personally made prom or wedding dresses, etc.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), one of the bill's co-sponsors, said S3728 “represents a true compromise.”
The proposed legislation is the product of an intensive year of negotiations with interested stakeholders,” he said. “Among other things, the compromise language provides protection to truly unique fashion designs. In order to be considered an infringing design, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a design copy is ‘substantially identical'.

This idea is also for the first time supported by both sides of the fashion industry, the
Council of Fashion Designers of America and the American Apparel and Footwear Association. “After a year of negotiations, I am pleased we were able to find agreement on the issue of fashion design privacy,” AAFA President Kevin M. Burke said in the statement. CFDA Executive Director Steven Kolb added, “This bill is good news in that it promotes creativity and thus strengthens the fashion industry's significant contribution to a healthy and working economy.

The European Union offers protection for fashion designs, but it is not as heavily used as one would think. Many find registration and protection too tedious for something which will be out of style by the time the papers are filed. Others think it hampers creativity, as fashion is openly a business of recycling and reworking. One of the main pushes in getting protection here in the States is to protect young designers without the money and ability to protect themselves as out major brands do.

So what do you think? Do we need protection for fashion designs, or does the market move and change too fast for it?

What's your take?

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