Don’t worry I don’t have a new version to this song…bad girl B if you ripped this song from someone else. But, really people it happens in every industry, so here are some ways to protect your hard work that will at least lend some negotiating power when the time comes for the stealing party to pay up!
A case filed in January by Diane Von Furstenburg (DVF) against Target is a perfect example of copyright infringement within the fashion industry. Fashion designs are not completely protected under Copyright Law. Of course, you cannot copyright, let’s say, a dress. A dress serves a utilitarian function, it is not unique in its function. However, if you have developed a particular printed fabric, which is a signature of a DVF design, then perhaps you may have copyright protection for your uniquely printed fabric. DVF has several copyright registrations for original print and fabric designs. In the DVF case, the Target design is said to be identical to the DVF Design in terms of the print used called “spotted frog” and the signature wrap style dress of DVF.
Keep in mind, that DVF was able to sue based upon her registering her print and fabric designs. In order to bring a suit against another party for Copyright Infringement your work must be registered. Many have tried to gain protection of fashion designs itself, not just the printed fabric, to no avail. The Copyright Law has made the distinction between works of imagination, masks or costumes that may be protected, from garments considered works of utility. It has been proposed that fashion designs are works of art that should be given the protection of similar art works, especially Haute Couture designs. Proposals have been made to amend the Copyright Law to include Fashion Designs via the Design Piracy Prohibition Act. The Bill has been tabled since August 2007. Hopefully, the Bill will pass and designers will be afforded protection for thier designs.
Now, do not confuse Copyright and Trademark. Copyright, under Title 17 U.S., Copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. laws to the authors of original works including music, literary works, and other intellectual properties. Works may be registered with The Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.
Trademark, is a word, phrase or symbol or combination that identifies a service product from another, for instance the Louis Vutton symbol. Examples of Trademark Infringement, may be the recent halt to T.I.’s video ‘Swing Ya Rag’ which not only talks about swinging your Louis Vutton and Gucci rag but shows him doing just that. Apparently, LV and Gucci found that this was Trademark Infringement because T.I. was using their logos without permission. Take note, to lay your claim to your symbol or mark simply use the trademark symbol, no need to register however use of the registered symbol informs the public that you are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This gives you legal weight in your claim to the trademark.
Fashionistas, remember to protect your hard work to the highest extent the law will allow. Be original, stay clear of copying, just be inspired by others!