Journal Article

Copyrighting couture or counterfeit chic? Protecting fashion design: a comparative EU–US perspective

Eveline Van Keymeulen

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 7, issue 10, pages 728-737
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online October 2012 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jps132
Copyrighting couture or counterfeit chic? Protecting fashion design: a comparative EU–US perspective

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Eveline Van Keymeulen is an associate in the intellectual property team based in the Brussels office of Covington & Burling LLP.

Fashion is a form of “wearable art” and must – despite its utilitatian character of covering one's body – be adequately protected by intellectual property tools on both sides of the Atlantic.

EU unregistered design protection is the ‘secret’ weapon for short-cycled fashion products and provides immediate protection for three years (think a couple of seasons), while ‘classic’ items with a longer life span may benefit from broader and longer registered design protection.

US copyright law does currently not offer protection to – inherently “useful” – fashion design: while apparel designs generally remain unprotected, “separable” textile patterns or prints may enjoy limited legal protection. US legislation establishing an EU-inspired sui generis right for fashion design is currently pending and – in times where counterfeiters copy fashion design in the blink of an eye – is eagerly awaited by both EU and US fashion designers.

This article discusses EU and US protection for fashion design in a comparative perspective and attempts to answer the crucial question: “does one size fit all?”

Journal Article.  7576 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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