Friday, February 15, 2008

Watch Out Knockoffs - It's War!

It is no joking matter when designers see replicas of their designs in the mass market for a tenth of the price - there are millions of dollars on the line.

WWD reported today that a proposed bill called the Design Piracy Prohibition Act is expected to amend current law to further protect designers against copyright violations. The bill would allow designers to register their designs for three years of copyright protection. The bill would cover apparel, handbags, footwear, belts and eyeglass frames. This is good news for a lot of designers like Diane Von Furstenberg [DVF] who recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Target. DVF accused the retailer of infringing on a fabric design that features spotted frogs. The bill would also establish penalties for those who violate the law. The proposed fine could be $250,000, or $5 for each copied item, whichever is more. Fashiontary wonders if this would apply to smaller shops and individuals selling via eBay. What will happen to all the counterfeit bag sellers on NYC corners – will they be hidden in less known stores in Chinatown? In 2006, US Chamber of Commerce estimated that $12 billion was lost in revenues due to counterfeiting and piracy in the fashion and apparel industry.

One opposing argument said that it is really difficult to tell where a design actually came from since most are inspired by the same colors and trends every season. But this argument doesn’t seem applicable to big name designers where they all [as seen Fall Fashion Week] have different twists on the same inspirations. It seems this amendment would most impact "smaller" designers who focus their designs on imitating the best selling looks by top designers, trying to get them quickly to market. Fashiontary thinks these “smaller” designers/retailers have a lot more at stake since they try to make chic and affordable goods that will appeal those who pay attention to fashion trends. Stay tuned when and if it is passed to law.

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