N.Y. Sen. Charles Schumer pitched new legislation to
protect fashion designs from knockoff artists Wednesday at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Narciso Rodriguez, Nicole Miller, Yeohlee Teng were just some of the designers that turned out.
Schumer-backed Design Piracy Prohibition Act would protect original
fashion designs for three years once registered with the U.S. Copyright
Office. Current U.S. laws only address counterfeits if they involve
anything that infringes on a registered trademark or falsely purport to
According to an article in yesterday’s WWD, under current laws, patents can protect creative objects
or ornamentation, but it is practically impossible to get a patent on an
entire article of clothing. Trademarks only protect brand names and
logos. A loophole in copyright law leaves New York fashion designers
open to having designs pirated.
Design is "every bit intellectual property — yet the law says, ‘Come, rip it off’ — it’s absolutely amazing," Schumer said.
This has clearly been an ongoing issue. Introduced
last week in Washington by Schumer and eight other senators, the DPP
Act stemmed from concerns about how copycats are devaluing designers’
original designs. Additionally, cheap overseas labor is challenging growth in
the $350 billion U.S. fashion industry.
The bill’s aim is to preserve
intellectual property and to safeguard established and up-and-coming
designers. Similar laws in Italy and France have fared well, Schumer
Under the new legislation, a designer would be able to photograph the front and back of a garment, send those images to the
copyright office, pay a fee of $30 or less and the design would be
registered. Designers would have six months to register a design.
Existing designs would not be
covered under the new legislation, said Schumer.
Designer Marc Bouwer told WWD, "we’re all for making more affordable
clothes. Have us working for Target and H&M and others — but let it
come from us. Do not counterfeit our designs in such a blatant manner."