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Design Right, the fashion industry and what is a commonplace design.

Written by Michael Coyle on 09 April 2009

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The clothing industry is worth billions and a design can be worth a fortune to designers. However the design chain can be easily broken and it is so important that you protect your design. This is so essential. We have seen too many sob stories (some genuinely heartbreaking) as young entrepreneurial designers lose their designs to unscrupulous designers. They are unaware of the protection available to them.

A right under design law gives the designer automatic protection for the internal or external shape, or configuration of an original design. Originality is important. If the design is commonplace you will lose the design. The right allows you to prevent anyone from copying the shape or configuration of the product. However it does not give you protection for 2-dimensional aspects, for example a pattern. Two dimensional patterns are protected by copyright and registered designs.

Two dimensional designs would be protected by a new European unregistered design right, which although lasts for a shorter period than the UK design law, would now be appropriate, Art. 3(a) of Regulation 6/2002 provides:

"'Design' means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation."

In addition there is also the registered right where you will register your design. The design is registered for 25 years and will protect the overall appearance of the design excluding features dictated by function

So if you are a designer you will need to 1) register your design and 2) be aware of unregistered designs.

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