By Stefania Baldazzi and Elena Varese

Coordinator of the Fashion Law Specialization Course at the University of Milan

1. Barbara, you are the coordinator of the postgraduate fashion law course at the Insubria University of Como and at the Statale University of Milan.  No similar course has ever been offered by an Italian academic institution before.  Can you tell us where the idea to set up such a course came from?


By Tamar Duvdevani and Matthew Ganas

A relatively common problem affecting the fashion industry is claims of copyright infringement over designs that appear on clothing and other merchandise.  In particular, retailers create product overseas, unaware that a print stated to be open source by an Asian manufacturing partner is actually a protected design.  And, because ignorance is no excuse in copyright infringement, retailers are often penalized for infringement that they may view as innocent – even for use of “simple” designs that may not be perceived as protectable at all.  But does this fact pattern create a finding of willful infringement, which confers additional penalties under the Act?  According to a recent decision out of the Eleventh Circuit, the answer is no.  

Continue Reading Protecting Polka Dots and Zebra Stripes Through Copyright: Eleventh Circuit Affirms Ruling that Boot Designs are Infringed (But Not Willfully)

By Ann K. Ford

This morning, DLA Piper’s Fashion, Retail and Design Group brought out a commanding group of DLA Piper colleagues from around the world to discuss recent developments in their jurisdictions that affect brand owners of fashion and retail brands. The audience comprised of representatives of luxury and leading retail apparel brands, whom were treated to a breakfast of digestible presentations of useful fashion law and intellectual property news from China, Turkey, Brazil, Australia, Germany and the United States.

At the end of the program, London partner and Fashion, Retail and Design Group founder, Ruth Hoy invited guests to take home the DLA Piper fashion law e-magazine, Law à La Mode, and additional materials on China protection.  It was truly a remarkable event!

Fashion Law Breakfast 1.JPG

© 2013 Karen Campbell

Continue Reading DLA Piper’s Fashion Law Breakfast at the 2013 INTA Annual Meeting in Dallas

Last night, we attended a DC Bar fashion law panel discussion, “For the Love of Fashion: Protect Yourself,” at Baker Hostetler in Washington DC. It was a very informative and comprehensive discussion from in-house and outside counsel, including DLA Piper’s Lisa Norton, who is Of Counsel in the Patent Prosecution group, on trademark, copyright, and patent protection as well as current hot-button developments in fashion law and anti-counterfeiting.

Continue Reading DC Bar’s “For the Love of Fashion: Protect Yourself” Event

The eight recipients of the British Fashion Council’s (“BFC”) NEWGEN MEN, sponsored by TOPMAN, initiative were announced earlier this week. DLA Piper is partnering with the British Fashion Council to provide tailored legal and commercial

Continue Reading DLA Piper Partners with The British Fashion Council to Mentor Up and Coming Designers

By James Stewart

It is an exciting time for fashion law in the Second Circuit. On the heels of a landmark trademark decision holding that red soles could serve as a source identifier, the Second Circuit now approaches fashion law from a different perspective—copyright.

As mentioned in previous posts, fashion designers today rely primarily on trademark, patent, and anti-counterfeiting laws as the sources of protection for their designs. In some instances, designers invoke narrow copyright protection for their works.

Prom and pageant dress designer Jovani Fashion Ltd. (“Jovani”) brought a copyright infringement action against Fiesta Fashions (“Fiesta”) in the District Court for the Southern District of New York for allegedly copying decorative aspects of Jovani’s designs. Jovani’s claim of copyright protection is founded upon the idea that the design at issue combines features which serve both decorative and utilitarian purposes, but can be separated from the article and function independently. The District Court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

Continue Reading Sequins, Crystals, and Satin: 2nd Circuit Declines to Extend Copyright Protection to Prom Dresses

By James Stewart

While New York has Fashion Week, September has proved to be Fashion Month in the Senate. On September 10, 2012, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced S.3523 the “Innovative Design Protection Act of 2012” (“the Bill”).  The Bill, aimed at extending intellectual property protection to fashion designs, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 20, 2012.


It is no secret that intellectual property protection for fashion designs has been a heavily debated issue in the legislature since 2006.  While one would think the fashion community would be ecstatic about protection for original designs and creativity, in an industry with diverse stake holders, many are concerned about the potential implications of this Bill and its effects on fashion designers’ rights.

Although exceptional limits exist in each of the methods fashion designers may use to try to protect their designs, fashion designers today rely primarily on trademark, patent, and anti-counterfeiting laws as the main sources of protection for their intellectual property.  Additionally, fashion designers are afforded very limited protection under the current iteration of the Copyright Act.  Trademarks are used to protect the integrity of the designers’ brands.  Patents are useful for some fashion designs, although due to the lengthy application and registration process, the need for a patent is often obsolete by season’s end.

The proposed pieces of legislation to-date have tried to provide protection for fashion design under the Copyright Act, calling for a three year term of protection for original articles of apparel.  Under these proposed bills, the standard for copyright infringement would be articles which are “substantially similar” containing only minor or trivial differences. 

This standard has caused concerned across a wide spectrum of fashion designers, from innovative designers to the more conservative designers, for its practical challenges in enforcement.  Fashion is a collective effort of designers who receive inspiration from all aspects of their daily lives, generations past, and other designers.  An essential element in fashion is recycling and renovating.  Therefore, designers are not only concerned about protecting their own designs, but also the risks associated with their own designs in the future.