Fashion Law - Guide to Fashion Law

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What is Fashion Law?

Fashion law refers to a specialized area of the law that deals with legal issues affecting the fashion industry. Primarily, fashion law relates to intellectual property rights (i.e., copyright and trademark law), contracts and commercial transactions (both domestic and international), employment and labor laws, and customs.

Although a highly focused sub-specialty, Fashion Law is a quickly growing field. Several American law schools and design schools have even dedicated programs to the topic of fashion law. This is an acknowledgment of the increasing need for attorneys specialized in the unique idiosyncrasies of the fashion industry as opposed to other, similar industry specialty fields like entertainment, arts, and sports law.

Fashion houses and designers now face unique challenges specific to their industry, requiring attorneys who understand the advantages and disadvantages of various types of intellectual property protection, particularly in light of the seasonal nature of the fashion industry. Moreover, the increased availability of counterfeit goods, such as “knock-off” designer handbags and dresses, the risk of threats from so-called “copyright trolls,” and laws relating to the use of "hazardous materials" in consumer goods have created interesting new challenges for the fashion industry and the fashion lawyer in particular. Similarly, the fashion industry deals with unusual international supply chain issues,and very specific employment-law concerns, such as the use of minors for fashion modeling or as labor in overseas factories. Consequently, while fashion law is a fairly new specialty area of practice, it is gaining momentum and sure to a major focus in years to come.

For more information about fashion law, please review the resources below. Additionally, you can find an attorney in your area who specializes in fashion law by clicking on the Law Firms tab on the menu bar, above.


Fashion Law - US

  • AAFA - Anti-Counterfeiting and IPR Issues

    Congress and the Administration continue to be active on efforts to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement. A law (PL 109-81, Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods) that was enacted in March 2006 to provide tougher penalties for the trafficking in counterfeit hangtags and labels has already had some results and will continue to help law enforcers prosecute counterfeiters.

  • Design Law in the European Fashion Sector

    Following the entry into force of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement in the European Community, Dr. Fridolin Fischer, an attorney-at- law in Zurich, Switzerland, and author of “Kleidermode – Phänomen ohne Rechtsschutz?”, an analysis of legal protection for fashion designs, discusses in this article for WIPO Magazine the relevance of design law in the fashion sector.

  • Design Piracy Prohibition Act

    An Act to amend title 17 to the United States Code, to extend protection to fashion design, and for other purposes.

  • Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act

    Senator Schumer has introduced a new fashion design protection bill called the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act. The bill represents a compromise as compared to its highly problematic predecessor, the Design Piracy Protection Act (DPPA) which would have put 90% of independent designers out of business (and me along with them). The proposed new bill represents a compromise between the AAFA and CFDA. We also have your voices and advocacy to thank for making this possible.

  • Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act

    Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act - Amends the federal criminal code to revise provisions prohibiting the trafficking in counterfeit goods and services to include trafficking in labels or similar packaging of any type or nature, with knowledge that a counterfeit mark has been applied to such labels or packaging, the use of which is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive.

  • United States Copyright Office - Protection for Fashion Design

    The Copyright Office submits this written statement to the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property in connection with the Subcommittee's July 27, 2006 hearing on H.R. 5055,

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. In doing this, the USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the Constitution that the Executive branch "promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries."

Organizations Related to Fashion Law

  • American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA)

    The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market.

  • Arts of Fashion Foundation

    The new challenge for the American fashion industry as well as for education would be the adoption of a copyright law for fashion design with the Design Piracy Prohibition Act.

  • Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

    The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc, (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association that leads industry-wide initiatives and whose membership consists of more than 350 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, which recognize the top creative talent in the industry, the organization offers programs which support professional development and scholarships, including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar Award, the Liz Claiborne Scholarship Award, and the CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship. Member support is provided through the Business Services Network, a high-profile group of companies offering designers strategic opportunities.

  • Fashion Law Center

    The world of fashion may soon be substantially transformed by Congressional passage of a proposed new law known as the U.S. "Design Piracy Act." As every fashionista knows, the fashion industry thrives on trends and therefore on imitation. The question frequently arises, how much is too much? When does "inspiration" verge on theft? That Diane von Furstenberg knockoff you saw for sale at Forever 21 – is that legal? Today, U.S. law differs markedly from European Union law in that the U.S. does not provide for the legal protection of fashion designs. While certain elements of a garment or fashion item may be protected (trademarks, fabric prints, and accessories, for example), the actual design of a garment cannot be protected.

  • Harper's Bazaar - Fakes are Never in Fashion

    Thinking of buying a fake? Get real. The Harper’s Bazaar Fakes Are Never In Fashion™ campaign is dedicated to exposing the criminal activities connected to the sale of counterfeit luxury goods—child labor, drug trafficking, and even terrorism.

  • International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition

    The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition is the world's largest non-profit organization devoted solely to protecting intellectual property and deterring counterfeiting. Our membership spans from automotive, apparel, luxury goods and pharmaceuticals, to food, software and entertainment. From the small privately owned companies to large multinationals, we share one common goal–to combat counterfeiting and piracy.

  • My Authentics is the new website from The Authentics Foundation for all the latest counterfeiting news. Here you will find accurate information on how to spot fakes on the high street so you can make smart, safe choices. We also want to let everyone know about the issues surrounding counterfeiting and how it affects you on a daily basis. Take a look around the site to find out more about what we do and how counterfeiting affects you!

  • Stop Fashion Piracy

    Design piracy, the blatant copying of another's designs, is akin to counterfeiting without affixing the fake designer label. Sadly, because of a lack of adequate legal protection, design piracy has become a way of life in the fashion industry in the U.S. Design piracy is unfair to designers and is detrimental to competition within the fashion industry. It effectively allows others to plagiarize the original designer's creative ideas and reap the benefits of the creator's labor and assumption of risk.

Articles on Related to Fashion Law

  • Harvard Professor Fires Back Against Copyright Infringement Claims
    Harvard University Law Professor Lawrence Lessig is fighting back against allegations that his online lecture posted on YouTube violates the copyright to a French pop song. Fittingly, Lessig is a respected expert on law and technology as well as an advocate for less restrictive copyright laws.
  • Copyright FAQ: What is Considered Fair Use?
    When deciding whether you can use someone else’s work without permission, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration. One of the most important limitations to copyright protection is the doctrine of fair use.
  • Are You Getting Shortchanged on Patent Royalties?
    Licensing intellectual property can be a lucrative stream of revenue. However, businesses need to have procedures in place to ensure accurate reporting and royalty payments.
  • Presidential Hopefuls Taking Heat for Possible Copyright Infringement
    Every election season, at least one of the candidates seems to end up in legal hot water over music used by the campaign. in 2012, it was Newt Gingrich. He is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit for his use of the Rocky III theme song, "Eye of the Tiger."
  • A Call for Big Patent Changes
    Federal Judge Richard Posner recently dismissed the high-profile intellectual property litigation between Apple and Motorola, after determining that neither side could prove damages.
  • Are Neutral Experts the Key to Complicated IP Litigation?
    Judge Richard Posner is taking a novel approach to the upcoming patent litigation between Apple and Motorola. He is using court-appointed witnesses to explain complicated subject matter.
  • What Does Neil Young Have Against MP3s? Rock Legend Seeks Trademark for New Audio Format
    Legendary rocker Neil Young reportedly does not like how his songs currently sound on his iPod. To remedy the problem, he is working on a new, high-resolution audio format to replace MP3s, as evidenced by several trademarks applications recently filed on his behalf.
  • USPTO Issues Guidance to Patent Examiner in Wake of Prometheus Decision
    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a memorandum to its patent examiners regarding the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. The memorandum provides preliminary guidance to the Patent Examining Corps. in light of the Court’s decision, and also indicates that further guidance will be forthcoming.
  • Has Louis Vuitton Gone Too Far to Protect Its Trademark?
    The intellectual property world is buzzing about the trademark dispute brewing between luxury brand Louis Vuitton and University of Pennsylvania Law School. Louis Vuitton recently sent a strongly worded cease and desist letter demanding that the school remove posters advertising the Pennsylvania Intellectual Property Group’s (PIRG) annual symposium on fashion law because the posters "misappropriated and modified" Vuitton's trademarked monogram design.
  • Vesting of Contingent Compensation in Pay or Played Television Director Agreement
    One of the issues in negotiating director agreements in television is whether contingent compensation provision applies in situations where a director is pay or played off a film. The question becomes will the director be entitled to any portion of the negotiated contingent compensation since she has been terminated and is no longer with the project.
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