Could a Senate Bill Mean Trouble for the Budget Conscious Fashionista and the “Trickle Down Trend”??

Designers have been vying for a way to protect the creativity and innovation reflected in their collections each season. The recent Louboutin v. YSL case is a great example. However, many designers are not so lucky.

BUT, do we as the consumer want them to be successful??? Don’t we want the looks shown on the runway?  But how many of us can afford them until they’ve been copied and changed slightly to appear at department stores and trendy stores?  Well that might be a new concern for the fashionista on a budget.

On September 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senator Chuck Schumer’s Innovative Design Protection Act., (the “IDPA”), sending the law to the Senate floor for consideration.

Fashion:District The Show
Fashion:District The Show (Photo credit: TPWP)

The IDPA would allow a fashion design to be protected for 3 years if it includes original elements of an article of clothing or accessory (such as a bag or eyewear), or an original arrangement of elements.  U.S. designers would be able to enforce their rights against a “substantially identical” design.  Will this eliminate the “trickle down trends” we all enjoy (I am copyrighting this term lol)??

While the definitions of these terms still leave a lot of room for interpretation, there are some clear parameters in place.  The provision would not protect colors (though some protection is available under trademark law) or graphics on fabric (though traditional copyright protection is available there).  Partial elements of an article, such as a sleeve, are outside the protection, since the legislation only protects the article as a whole.  Other exemptions are made for items that are the subject of independent creation; for copying of the design for home use; and by carve-outs for retailers, consumers, and third parties such as ISPs and search engines.  The IDPA would not extend protection to anything created prior to the enactment of the law.

The bill has garnered the support of the American Apparel and Footwear Association and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, but the California Fashion Association is still opposed to the initiative.  But how do you feel? I am extremely conflicted. As an attorney and a business woman I understand and support the desire to reward and promote innovation by providing protections for those spending their time and using their talents to create new items. However, as a fashionista and consumer I wonder how the industry will adapt. The “new hot thing” each season is just that because traces of it appear in most if not all new collections for the season. So that leads me to believe (or maybe I’m just hoping) that this will not be used as much as we fear or at least won’t be successful enough to deter or hinder the trickle down trend. It will really be beneficial to that stand out item that breaks the mold. Is three years too long to wait for its cheaper sister?

Fashionistas there is hope! We may not have to worry about how this will play out and affect our wardrobes just yet… Congress is busy and time is running short! Federal spending, revenues, the deficit and the national debt are presumably the issues which will garner the limited time and attention likely to be available between now and the end of the session.

Lets watch this one…

Let me know what you think!

3 thoughts on “Could a Senate Bill Mean Trouble for the Budget Conscious Fashionista and the “Trickle Down Trend”??

  1. Natalie says:

    The bill may actually facilitate the creation of more innovative adaptations of runway fashion. With the multitude of creative thinkers in the world, we may see some really cool fashion if the bill is passed. Thank you for your interesting blog Ms. Camille!

    Like

  2. Tanice Reddae says:

    I love that you are incorporating fashion into your law blog! You are shining light onto a part of law that the majority of people do not know about, let alone even think about. While I understand that protection of an original item is important, I as a consumer am torn because if it were not for those copycat items, I would not have access to the fashions that are in style. I will say however, that many designers have begun to do a better job at thinking about the middle class fashionistas by way of creating similar designs at a lower price point. I guess we will have to stay tuned! I wouldn’t hold my breath though, because as you so eloquently stated, “Federal spending, revenues, the deficit and the national debt are presumably the issues which will garner the limited time and attention likely to be available between now and the end of the session” (Stewart, C., 2012).

    Like

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