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Note: The Sartorial Dilemma of Knockoffs: Protecting Moral Rights without Disturbing the Fashion Dynamic

By Margaret E. Wade. Full text here.

As soon as fashion models hit the runway, copycat designers snap photos and quickly replicate the original designs, flooding the market with nearly identical, discount versions of the original garments. In response to this phenomenon of fashion piracy, members of the fashion design community have been advocating for a fashion design copyright for nearly a century. With the rise of new technology and evolving consumer behaviors, copycat fashion is more rampant than ever before. However, critics of a fashion design copyright claim that protection for fashion designs is unnecessary because the fashion industry is thriving, and sharing ideas is a vital part of the fashion process.

The Note analyzes the most recent fashion design copyright bill, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, and it evaluates arguments from proponents and critics of the legislation. The Note contends that a sui generis copyright protection will create more harm than good, and a limited attribution-focused solution would be a better fit for the fashion industry. It presents a solution that provides a limited protection to fashion designs via a certification mark or a collective mark. This solution seeks common ground in providing designers with a means to protect their name, while still allowing competition and preserving the unique copying dynamic within the fashion industry.