Copyright Protection for Fashion Designers Closer to Reality

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Protection Act (“IDPPPA”), which (if passed by Congress and signed by President Obama) would expand Article 13 of the Copyright Act to include and protect “apparel” items such as clothing, luggage, handbags, wallets and eyeglass frames.  The IDPPA protects fashion designers from having their work stolen and reproduced.

Article 13 is somewhat of a hybrid of copyright and patent law, allowing a “designer” to secure copyright protection for “an original design of a useful article which makes the article attractive or distinctive in appearance to the purchasing or using public.”  At the present, Article 13 only applies to vessel hulls, but, if passed, will also protect apparel.  Copyright protection for apparel will last for 3 years, and infringers who produce apparel “substantially identical” to the protected originals will be subject to statutory damages.

Whether the IDPPPA will go any further remains to be seen, Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans having vowed to block “any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.”

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