Copyright is a sensitive topic, as many people have been affected when someone else has taken credit for their ideas. Many more people have filed claims saying that credit has been stolen for their work. As is usually the case, directly copying someone else’s clothing design is prohibited. However, similarities in designs can pass by copyright laws undetected. As so many products are similar to one another, it is difficult for judges to determine who copied who, or if someone even broke copyright laws in the first place. This is why there are no strict laws on the topic of clothing copyrights.
What can be copyrighted or not?
Copyrights exist to protect the work that people have strived tirelessly towards. You spent a lot of time to hire the best designer so now you want his work to be protected. If a person has a copyright for their material, it means that only they have the legal right to use it in any way. Other people may request to use it as well, in exchange for a licensing fee. Common knowledge or facts are not copyrighted, no matter who discovered them first. Similarly to facts and phrases, clothing does not have copyright laws associated with it. Theoretically, all clothing serves the same few purposes; to keep us warm, covered and modest. According to this, clothes do not meet the criteria to require copyright protection.
There are a few parts of clothing that can be copyrighted. For example, if the clothes had an original or recognizable pattern on it, then this would receive more protection from copycats. It was decided that these visual designs were not related to the overall function of the article of clothing. Therefore, they were considered to have met the standard for copyrighting. Similar to these original patterns, a decorative fabric can also be copyrighted. The fabric serves a common purpose to people, just like all other clothes. However, the print on the fabric does not serve that same purpose, therefore it can be copyrighted. Once you know that you just have to follow the several steps to copyright your fashion design.
The current situation in fashion copyrighting
Considering the loosely defined standards of copyright for clothing, it is not surprising how many knock-off fashion designs exist in the world. Clothing can be designed that mimics the exact style of what was just seen on a runway, and it will not be considered ‘stolen’ material.
Trademarks are very common with famous brand names. If a trademark has been registered, a brand has all the rights to a particular symbol or design that differentiates their product from others. Trademarks are helpful because they allow the customer to see the difference between the original product and a knock-off version. This way, they can make an informed decision about whether they want a product that is made with higher quality, or a cheaper alternative.
It is always wise to be cautious when dealing with copyright laws and trademarks. You do not want to steal another retailer’s ideas, even if just by accident. By performing a simple Google search, you will likely find information relating to copyrights, and whether your idea already exists somewhere. If it does, you can start again with a new idea, or put an original twist on the concept that has been started by someone else.