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Designer's Dream?

The topic of the article includes a question as if we look into the intellectual property laws with respect to the fashion industry, the dreams of the designers and design students is something which requires a property review and security.

Fashion law refers to a specialized area of the law that deals with legal issues affecting the fashion industry. Primarily, fashion law relates to intellectual property rights (i.e., copyright and trademark law), contracts and commercial transactions (both domestic and international), employment and labour laws, and customs

Over the period of years, there has been a lot of development in the intellectual property rights with respect to national and international treaties, but what is lacking is the protection of this right with respect to the fashion industry. Even the design act and other design law treaties, majorly cover the industrial design and what the loop hole here is that there is no proper legislation which provides security to fashion designers, shoe designers and other individuals belonging to the profession of the same.

Indian IP laws, specifically The Copyright Act,1957 and The Designs Act, 2000 gives two kinds of protection in the designer clothes. First is the protection for the drawings on any garment that may not necessarily include the shape/design of the garment itself.

The second category includes the design/shape of the garment itself, attributing to its unique fabric and tailoring. Designers are aggressively pushing to protect their design rights of this category.
The problem there is that even the designs of top designer’s and brands are counterfeited, and this increases the hardships of small designers and design students who are trying to make a place in the industry.

The places like Chandni Chowk, linking road, several online platforms, individual shops as well as street markets engage in this business of selling duplicates of the designs. The reason why all this is openly happening is because there are no concrete and strict legislation the way we have with respect to inventions and books of individuals.

Another issue why this is happening is because these counterfeited goods are being produced, the countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and many more engage in the production of such goods, which are further imported into other countries, where the distribution further takes place. Singapore does not allow the sale of counterfeited goods, yet individuals take trips to Thailand and Malaysia and use the goods in Singapore. United States, does not legalize the same, yet the same activity could be seen on the streets of fifth avenue.

These activities increase the hardships of design students, which over the time has increased because of the expansion of social media, every design student to get into a design school has to make a portfolio and after that engage in several assignments which involves their intellectual and artistic ability yet there is always a threat that how and when they could be counterfeited if displayed to public.

To conclude it is essential for us to understand that the day inventions, articles and books and other intellectual properties are protected, the same legislation should be there for the individuals in the field of fashion so ensure that their rights are not violated. The national and international treaties of design provides for the security of the designs but the concentration of the same is more on the industrial designs and the improvement in the condition will happen with the design act and treaties widening its practical scope and a proper investigation and surveys with respect to why is this happening and identifying the nexus of the same. 

  • Design Act, 2000
  • Discussion with fashion design students, in order to get an understanding of their hardships.

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