Lawsuits? Fashion Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Lawsuits
Advocates for strong IP rights argue that absent such rights copyists will free-ride on the efforts of creators and stifle innovation. This orthodox justification is logically straightforward and well reflected in the law. Yet a significant empirical anomaly exists: the global fashion industry, which produces a huge variety of creative goods without strong IP protection. Copying is rampant as the orthodox account would predict. Yet innovation and investment remain vibrant.
Why, when other major content industries have obtained increasingly powerful IP protections for their products, does fashion design remain mostly unprotected — and economically successful? The fashion industry is a puzzle for the orthodox justification for IP rights. This paper explores this puzzle.
Kal Raustiala & Chris Sprigman. The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design. Social Science Research Network. January 2006.
Rick Karr. Fashion Industry Copes with Designer Knockoffs. National Public Radio. Sept. 18, 2003.
Jennifer Mencken. A Design for the Copyright of Fashion. Boston College Intellectual Property & Technology Forum. Dec. 12, 1997.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the intersection of business, law and technology. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.