Copyright in Fashion

Yesterday's NY Times has an article on the fashion industry's struggle to try to get copyright protection on its fashion designs.

Not unsurprisingly, and much to their credit, the manufacturers who will actually be making the garments are afraid that extending copyright law to explicitly protect fashion design will open a Pandora's box of litigation.

Really, the fashion industry already has the tool it needs to protect itself from the cheap knock offs. Its called trademark law. They can trademark a distinct logo, label, or other attribute which they can make as visible as they want on their garments. Infringers of the trademark can be prosecuted in much the same way as they would be under copyright law.

The knock offs which do not copy the trademark wont be confused with the original by anyone who really gives a damn and are most likely being bought by people who had no intention of buying the original anyway. Just like imitation Rolex watches and other high price luxury items, knock offs are a none issue. As long as the trademark is not being copied there is very little chance of the items being confused by anyone who is really interested in the original.