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The importance and value of intellectual property in the fast moving world of fashion

Written by Fozia Cheychi on 29 March 2015

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An increasingly globalised industry such as fashion brings with it, it's own challenges. There are a variety of issues pertinent to this fast changing and constantly evolving industry.

In the context of the growing importance of the fashion industry it is essential to consider the importance of intellectual property “IP” of fashion designs and brands.

The Diana Von Furstenburg wrap dress is an expensive investment and retains its place in a woman’s wardrobe not just because it was expensive to purchase but also because the design itself is timeless and one that has gone down in history as an iconic fashion piece. On the other hand trends such as the logo bag died a quick death and in comparison was very short-lived. The popularity of short lived trends in the fashion world drive the fashion market. Fashion is constantly changing and designs tend to lose their value very quickly. This notion may go part way to explaining why litigation in the fashion world for copying designs is low. Litigation by its very nature is costly and time consuming and so it is often perceived by many fashion companies that it is not a cost effective solution for protecting a single item from a seasons collection, which could be made up of hundreds of different designs.

The Mulberry logo, the Oscar De La Renta wedding dress and the Nike Air Max trainers are all the products of tremendous creativity and skill in the fashion industry. There is no doubt that the value of intellectual capital to the creation and marketing of items in the fashion industry is huge, regardless of whether it is high end fashion or ready to wear. Therefore it is surprising that many small and medium sized businesses do not invest in protecting their intellectual property.  The effects of copying designs are particularly damaging for emerging designers for whom every sale counts.

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