The Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prohibition Act, S. 3728, is a piece of U.S. legislation created to protect innovative fashion designs from being copied (knocked off/pirated) before their creators can legitimately profit from them. It's the successor to the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, which had been before Congress in 2008/2009. The IDPPPA still needs to be voted on in both the House and Senate, as well as receive presidential signature, before it becomes law.

[Forgive me if this part gets a little technical; I am, after all, a lawyer by trade.] The bill proposes a short, 3-year term of protection for truly novel and innovative fashion designs. (Old designs will remain unprotected.) It would amend chapter 13 of the U.S. Copyright Act, which currently applies only to vessel hulls. Designers will not be required to register designs in order for them to be protected, which makes the protection more in the nature of copyright than of patent or trademark; however, the standard for a design to be found infringing is one of being "substantially identical" to the original, which standard is more or less borrowed from trademark law.

Big deal, you say. Why should I pay $300 for something when somebody else is selling something virtually identical for $30? Because, when someone copies a new fashion design, they are depriving the original designer of the ability to profit from selling the design, and those profits are necessary to ensure that the designer's business remains financially viable. It's the same basic principle as patent law: if you don't stop people from stealing inventions, nobody will want to invent because they can't make any money doing it (not to mention recouping their development costs), and society as a whole will be disadvantaged by a lack of new innovations.

I could talk about this for hours. It's such a fascinating area of law to me. Thanks to Susan Scafidi of the fashion/law blog Counterfeit Chic for keeping us updated on this legislation. Click here to read her update on the current status of the bill, and click here for her summary of the bill's provisions.


Post a Comment