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Fashion and IP: back to basics

August 31, 2021, By

What does it take to become to build a successful fashion brand and succeed as a designer? There are, no doubt, numerous factors in play, but here at Briffa we can help you to ensure that the legal side of things is taken care of, and importantly, your intellectual property is secured and protected, whilst you do what you do best – take care of the creative side of things with a peace of mind.

It is usually the design rights that first come to mind when thinking of intellectual property in fashion industry. However, there are actually a number of IP rights that need to be considered, and we will be more than happy to help you navigate through them.

In summary, the relevant IP rights in fashion industry are:

  • Trade marks

Trade marks are registered rights that protect brand names, but not just them. Trade marks can also protect logos, slogans, sounds, smells, multimedia and many other important brand identifiers.

Trade marks give monopoly over the registered signs (a brand name, a logo, a slogan, etc.), meaning, that you will be able to stop third parties from using the same brand name or other registered brand identifiers for their fashion products or business.

  • Designs

Unsurprisingly, designs are one of the most important intellectual property rights in the fashion industry, along with the brand names. There are different types of designs, namely registered and unregistered designs. We can discuss the differences between these rights and the protection they afford, and help you identify and decide which designs are worth registering, and in which cases you can rely on unregistered rights.

  • Patents

Lately, patents have become increasingly important in the fashion industry, and they can protect innovations such as fabrics which have technical properties (such as waterproof fabric) and so-called wearable technology. Patents are quite expensive and slow to obtain, but in certain circumstances they are well worth the investment of money and time. We can help you identify if your invention is worth protecting by patent, or if it is better to rely on other rights.

  • Copyright

Copyright protects original intellectual creations in the fashion industry such as drawings, sketches, promotional texts and social media posts, photographs, and many other types of works. Copyright arises automatically upon creation of the work and is protected internationally (unlike trade marks, designs and patents that have to be protected and secured in each country separately). It is however highly important to keep evidence of creation of the works, and we can discuss with you how best to achieve it to ensure you have everything you need to enforce your unregistered rights.

The above is not an exhaustive list of IP rights that can be relevant to fashion industry; apart from different types of rights there are also a number of other considerations to take into account (such as, for example, ensuring that you in fact own all relevant rights).

This can seem understandably overwhelming. However, we are here for you to help navigate the world of intellectual property whilst you focus on creating your best designs. Please do not hesitate to drop us an email or give us a call and one of our friendly specialist lawyers will be happy to arrange a free initial consultation.

Written by Anastasia Troshkova, Associate

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