Haute Couture Legislation: Tailor Made High Fashion Design Protection in the United States

AuthorChristine Quilichini
PositionRecently received the degree of LL.M. in Intellectual Property from George Washington University in Washington, DC
Pages228-257
HAUTE COUTURE LEGISLATION: TAILOR MADE HIGH FASHION
DESIGN PROTECTION IN THE UNITED STATES
CHRISTINE QUILICHINI*
I. Introduction: The Dangerous Effects of a Lack of Copyright Protection ........... 229
II. Design for Disaster: Issues Plaguing the High Fashion Design Industry............ 231
A. Imitation: Flattery? ............................................................................................................. 231
B. Counterfeits: An Underground Economy .................................................................. 232
1. Def initions .......................................................................................................................... 232
2. Eff ects on the Economy ................................................................................................. 233
III. Current Protections for Fashion Designers, or Lack Thereof ........................... 236
A. Trademark Protection....................................................................................................... 236
1. Lanham Act ........................................................................................................................ 236
2. T rade Dress Protection ................................................................................................. 236
B. Copyright Protection ......................................................................................................... 240
1. Co pyright Act ..................................................................................................................... 240
2. T he Utilitarian Problem ................................................................................................ 241
C. Analogous Protection: The Vessel Hull Design Protection Act ........................ 242
IV. Comparative Law: Fashion Capitals of the World ................................................. 244
A. European Union ................................................................................................................... 244
B. France ...................................................................................................................................... 245
C. Germany .................................................................................................................................. 247
V. International Treaties: Global Trend ................................................................................ 248
A. TRIPS ........................................................................................................................................ 248
B. ACTA ......................................................................................................................................... 248
VI. Proposed Legislation: A New Season in Legislation ............................................. 251
A. Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act .................................. 251
* Christine M. Quilichini recently received the degree of LL.M. in Int ellectual Property from
George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is also a graduate of the University of
Puerto Rico’s School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor in May of 2012. The author
would like to extend her sincere gratitude to the edito rs of the University of Puerto Rico
Business Law Journal for th eir comments and guidance during the process of writing this
article.
No. 2
Haute Couture Legislation: Tailor Made High
Fashion Design Protection in the United States
229
B. Innovative Design Protection Act ................................................................................. 252
C. Criticism .................................................................................................................................. 253
1. Co nsumer Access ............................................................................................................. 253
2. T rend v. Copy Dichotomy ............................................................................................. 254
3. S maller Firms Against the World .............................................................................. 255
4. Co nsumer Market Differentiation ............................................................................ 255
VII. Conclusion: A Hybrid Design .......................................................................................... 257
“Fashion is made to become unfashionable.
1
- Coco Chanel
I. INTRODUCTION: THE DANGEROUS EFFECTS OF A LACK OF COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
Every year, a crop of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new designers,
portfolios in hand, step onto the fashion scene, ready to take on New York
City and the world, fighting for the rare opportunity to interview with the
most elite design firms in the fashion industry. It’s the moment of truth; this
moment will determine their future. In a span of fifteen minutes they have to
impress the recruiter with their most promising designs. They will either
love them and hire them or be underwhelmed and keep looking. There is a
potential problem though: who is going to protect these small designers from
the big bad fashion industry, once its designers have seen their sketches?
Who will keep them from copying promising designs and selling them as
their own? That is a fundamental problem with the lack of copyright
protection.
The United States is one of the most fashion-forward countries in
the world. With multiple fashion capitals such as Miami, Los Angeles, and
most importantly, New York City, fashion represents a significant
contribution to the U.S. economy. The government of New York City reports,
and a study made by the New York Economic Development Corporation
confirms, that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week alone contributes eight hundred
sixty five million dollars ($865,000,000) to tourism, retail, and a number of
other related sectors.
2
The United States is not the only beneficiary of such
1
Just a simple little dressmaker, LIFE, Aug. 19, 1957, at 113, 114, available at htt p://books.go
ogle.com.pr/books?id=Kj8EAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=Life%2019%20Aug.%201957&pg=PA
113#v=onepage&q=Life%2019%20Aug.%201957&f=false.
2
Press Release, NYEDC Report, Fashion NYC 2020 (Feb. 13, 2012), http://www.nyced c.com
/resource/fashionnyc2020.

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