In the article by Anne Theodore Briggs, "Hung Out to Dry: Clothing Design Protection Pitfalls in United States Law" (2002) a valid argument is made about the irony of patent laws in the fashion industry. While designers are encouraged to make breakthroughs in cuts, designs, patterns, and styles, there is an equally profitable market outside of the doors of great fashion houses: knock offs.
When even magazines as respectable as Marie Claire have a section for "snags and steals" that encourage the purchase of a FAKE version of an expensive brand, it is hard to imagine that this same industry wants to push for harder laws to prevent copying from one designer to another. It is a double standard: high end designers cannot copy each other, but mediocre designers who copy high end designers and mass produce merchandise in bulk can come as close as they want in imitating fashion art. One of the most recent examples of intellectual property in fashion is the famous Louboutin versus. YSL battle where YSL questioned Louboutin's use of the famous "red sole" in the shoes, and demanded that YSL too gets the same rights as they were the ones who supposedly began this practice. Although the lawsuit was lifted, it left a lot of people wondering exactly to what extent designers can take liberties such as these.
Therefore, according to Industry Week Magazine's 2012 article "Ten Critical Steps to Protecting Intellectual Property in Global Markets", writer Mark Partridge suggests the following:
- Getting an official registration in the U.S.- you cannot fight over intellectual property unless it is rightfully yours.
- Research the target country and ensure that your ideas have not already been used.
- Request a local trademark and copyright registration
- Extend the registration to the target country
- Apply for international copyright notice to be used in catalogs and wherever you promote your intellectual property
- Use ccTLDs (country code top level domain names) when you make your online presence. For example, ".fr" for France at the end of your website, instead of only ".com".
- Get non-disclosure statements signed and notarized
- Spread out your workforce and do not have everything made in just one country (that is best for large corporations such as Walmart)
- Work with a lawyer at all times, especially one knowledgeable on IP (Intellectual property) laws.