Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Fashion Industry

Introduction –

In today’s era fashion plays a significant role in each and every individual’s life. The world being progressive in nature, fashion is not persistent and changes frequently. A lot of importance is given to the design, appearance and apparel and thus people have become image conscious. Fashion can be considered as a trait of uniqueness and people change their fashion pertaining to their mood and occasion. In order to attract a large number of customers, fashion designers have to be captivating in bringing uniqueness to their designs. Fashion is not only limited to clothing but several aspects such as jewellery, styling, make-up, footwear. There is a need for fashion designers to protect their creations from getting infringed. This is where the intellectual property rights come into the picture.

In simple terms, intellectual property rights are those exclusive rights given to the owner for a unique creation for a stipulated period of time pursuant to the provisions of the act. The purpose of intellectual property rights is to protect the expression and not the ideas.

This article gives a brief understanding about the significance of the various intellectual property rights involved in the fashion industry.

Importance of Copyright and Designs in the Fashion Industry:-

Famous designers face copyright issues since the small scale retailers make duplicate copies of such designs and sell them to the customers at affordable prices. “In accordance to the section 11 of The Designs Act 2000, the owner who has registered his design is entitled to obtain a copyright for the respective design for the tenure of 10 years from the date of the registration”. However, an extension can also be granted for the period of five more years from the date of the original tenure of ten years which has been expired. Since fashion is variable in nature, the creator faces complications in utilising the rights which he derives after the registration of the designs.

In order to respect the creativity and uniqueness of the artwork or the design, the copyright plays a significant role in the creator’s life. If the registered design is used without authorization of the owner, it amounts to infringement and the person who commits such infringement is liable for a penalty with respect to the provisions of the Copyright Act. Any artistic work can be granted protection under the Copyright Act, 1952 for a period of 60 years.

Importance of Trademark in the Fashion Industry

The logo, sign, colour, pattern of the fashion brands which are as highly recognised such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Prada, Gucci have unique logos which have been registered under Trade Marks Act 1999. Making one of the most valuable brands in fashion, Louis Vuitton monograms its products with the trademark “LV” and Burberry having the name “Burberry” written along with checkered pattern has been considered as the trademark bringing a distinctive look distinguishing the product from another.

“The relevant case law Burberry Limited vs Target Corporation which was filed in the Federal Court of New York, is an illustration which highlights the importance of protection of the intellectual property rights and how can it be enforced which would hereby aid the designers”. The brand name plays a very important role in the fashion industry and often cases have been registered on infringement of the brand name.

The process of trademark registration is not complex and the cost is also economic but it cannot shield the entire product or the apparel but only safeguard the logo. “In accordance to section 25 of the Trademark Act 1999, the tenure of protection of trademark and obtaining the trademark rights are for the period of 10 years from the date of filing the application”.

Importance of Patent in the Fashion Industry

In order to obtain patent rights, the creator should have an innovation and scientific utility. Under the fashion industry, artistic work can obtain protection under copyright, however, in order to boost up the competition, patentable rights are available to those individuals or companies who come up with technical inventions.

In today’s world with the advancement in technology, individuals and companies could come up with inventions which would safeguard their product and make them outshine from their competitors. “In accordance to the Section 53 of the Patents Act, 1970, the tenure for protection of the patents and obtaining patentable rights is for the period of 20 years from the date of filing application”.


Since fashion is associated with creation and being distinctive, to be innovative in the race there is a need to understand the importance of intellectual property rights. Thus a small worker hidden behind a brand name can also come out and showcase their talent and register their design and enjoy the intellectual property benefits.

In comparison to developed countries, India is still lagging behind in correlating fashion and intellectual property rights. Nowadays there has been a lot of fashion piracy where the small scale retailers make imitations of well-known brands and sell them at cheap prices hence there is a need for awareness among the fashion designers in order to protect their creation and encourage uniqueness. If the management of the Intellectual property rights done adequately then it will uplift the goodwill of the brand.

About the Author:-

Kayomi Rajeev Tumdi is a final year LLB student from M.K.E.S College of Law (Mumbai University) and pursuing PGDM in Intellectual Property Rights from NLU Bangalore. She is currently working as an intellectual property rights intern at Carnival Motion Pictures. With specific interest in the field of Intellectual Property Rights & Corporate Laws; she has completed her certification in IP laws from World Intellectual Property Organisation, Cyber Crime and Cyber laws from Asian School of Law, General Course on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and Civil drafting.


Burberry Limited (UK) et al v. Target Corporation el al, 1:2018- cv-03946 (SDNY)

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