Know Your Legal Rights In The World Of Fashion

Have you ever wondered if that beautiful dress you have earnestly designed ends up in the hands of a fashion traitor? No need to worry. The laws are pretty stringent when it comes to protecting your design, before it ends being a fashion faux pas. Fashion designers from various small/big powerhouses are now being more perceptive towards legal rights and are taking steps in safeguarding their creative work.

In today’s society, the fashion industry is guided by Intellectual Property, which means that it is involved in perpetual creation of new and innovative ideas for commercial purposes. Globally, this has led to an emergence of “Fashion Law” which include laws under Copyright, Trademark, Designs, Patents and Licensing. Let’s take one of my favorite luxury designer bags, Louis Vuitton, as an example; every detail reflects an Intellectual Property. The brand and logo “Louis Vuitton” or “LV” is protected under the trademark law, while the legendary monogram design is protected under the Design Law. Further, the artistic creation imprinted on the bag is protected under the copyright law and the new leather make developed would fall under the patent law.

It is noteworthy to mention here that there have been certain incidents around the world which has led to the emergence of fashion law. In 1994, a well-known French Couture designer, Yves Saint Laurent, had filed a suit against the American based retail company, Ralph Lauren, for the imitation of a black tuxedo dress. The facts state that the dresses were created by the fashion designer during the year 1966 and thereafter exhibited during the Haute Couture fall collections in 1991-92. The French Court had ruled in favor of the former, granting him similar copyright protection, as that is offered in the sphere of software and art. This landmark judgment obtained significance in the fashion industry, considering that protection of intellectual property rights had been extended to a fashion designer.

In India, the fashion industry has equally partaken in ensuring that various intellectual property infringements are put forth before the court of law. The Delhi High Court had recently passed a judgment in the matter of Rajesh Masrani vs Tahiliani Design with respect to Copyright Infringement. The court dismissed the former’s appeal and upheld that the original work of the renowned fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani, was to be protected, as being “artistic work” under the purview of Section 2(c) of the Copyright Act, 1957.

In view of the ongoing battle between designers globally, the good news is that there have been certain legislations popularized in certain countries that succor in providing a legal remedy to the global multi-billion-dollar fashion industry, as well as many ingenious designers. It is with respect to these legislations that it has beyond any doubt, provided a ray of hope for many aspiring fashion designers around the world.


The guest writer Yogmaya Pradeep is an Advocate/Partner at A & Y Partners. 

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