Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Fashion Industry and Intellectual Property

Over at Techdirt, there is a great piece concerning the lack of intellectual property enforcement in the fashion industry. The argument explored is that the fashion industry thrives from the pressure lack of IP enforcement provides.

The article point to a recent NYTimes editorial which explores this issue. Although brand names and logos are protected, actual designs are mostly unprotected. The editorial argues that this forces the fashion industry to thrive - a conclusion that would be certainly unpopular in other content industries. The author at Techdirt writes:

"without the artificial protectionism, the fashion designers are forced to continually compete by continually innovating and always trying to come out with the latest and greatest design. Even though others copy, there's tremendous value in being the first, or being the "big name" in the industry"

Similarly, they quote a previous Techdirt article that's rhetoric is not only poetic, but potent:

"Ideas arise, evolve through collaboration, gain currency through exposure, mutate in new directions, and diffuse through imitation. The constant borrowing, repurposing, and transformation of prior work are as integral to creativity in music and film as they are to fashion"
Another NYTimes article from 2005 points out the inconveniences that can arise from 'image pilfering' for boutique brands. Although the article paints a somewhat dire picture, it nonetheless reiterates the overall tone that in the long run, this lack of IP enforcement leads to innovation as opposed to complete bankruptcy.