The global fashion industry is a dynamic and fast-paced juggernaut, a major economic force generating billions of dollars in revenue and employing millions of workers in creative, marketing, sales and manufacturing capacities worldwide. Nonetheless, compared to other forms of artistic expression – such as literature, music, films and theatrical works – fashion designs are left with limited IP rights and protection.
The United States especially has shown an unwillingness to address the issue of protecting fashion designs beyond the traditional enforcement mechanisms. Many critics argue that fashion designs are not art, and therefore do not require similar protection, or that current laws sufficiently protect apparel and luxury brands. Moreover, due to the rapid turnover of new fashion designs, IP protection is often useless, as registrations do not typically issue until after copied designs hit the market. However, these arguments ignore the pressures that the fast fashion and counterfeit business models place on fashion companies and designers, both well-established and emerging, to remain innovative and relevant.