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Intellectual Property Rights In The Fashion Business

In the last few decades, the ever-evolving fashion industry of creative expression has been one of the most significant social phenomena of contemporary societies. The fashion industry at the heart of the business is not just about garments and apparel, but it is a company’s ability to build and monetize a unique brand to achieve the competitive edge essential for success. As and when a design or a brand becomes popular, others tend to copy it shamelessly which leads to a huge loss faced by the manufacturers of the original products. Quite often, we also come across counterfeit products of widely known brands which not only cause distress to the fashion industry but also pose a huge threat to the economy as well.

HOW IS IPR IMPORTANT TO THE FASHION INDUSTRY?

Intellectual Property (IP) Rights are the rights governing the intangible innovations of the human intellect. They represent an important body of law in almost every industry including the fashion business due to their ability to protect creations of the mind. It is a matter of fact that yes; IPR and the fashion industry move hand in hand as the creations or designs which are accepted as fashion in the industry are considered as the intellectual creations of an individual who owns an exclusive right to protect them. With that in mind, each industrial design asset and the brand that markets that asset within the fashion industry must be protected through Intellectual Property Rights. Therefore, it is imperative for any country’s legal system to promote creativity and protect the Intellectual Property Rights of the creations of the fashion industry.

THE MOST COMMON FORMS OF IP AND THE FASHION ITEMS PROTECTED UNDER THEM ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  1. COPYRIGHT:

Copyrights are the exclusive rights which protect the original artistic works. Anything that is functional or has a physical function in the real world can never be copyrighted. In the fashion industry, the elements of fashion designs are afforded protected if they meet the requisite levels of creativity, originality, and are fixed in a tangible medium.

In the fashion business, jewelry gets copyright protection as it is decorative and resembles miniature sculptors. Another area of fashion that gets copyright protection is two-dimensional designs including fabric prints, lace patterns, and jacquard weave. This kind of protection turns out to be super beneficial for a designer who is creating his or her own fabric.

  1. TRADEMARK:

A Trademark could be a word, name, symbol, logo, or a design that distinctively identifies the origin of the goods and services. When it comes to the fashion industry, trademark protection cannot typically protect an entire accessory or garment, but can at least protect the logo or the fashion label. Trademark Protection is a relatively strong form of protection for famous and recognized fashion brands, therefore it is highly advisable for the fashion designers to register their mark to protect their brand’s right to revenue and also help the customers distinguish between genuine and counterfeit items.

In the fashion business, the names and logos can be trademarked by the type of products which includes clothing, accessories, shoes, fabric, to name a few. Another relevant type of Trademark Law in the fashion world is “TRADE DRESS” which extends to the configuration including the design and shape of a product and/or its packaging. Trade dress creates a visual impression of the total image of a product.

  1. PATENT:

A Patent is an exclusive IP right granted to inventors whose skill or labor produces an idea of a new process. Coming to the fashion industry, a patent has to be something that is not only useful but is also new or novel to the entire world around. Therefore, Patent Protection is an important aspect leading to the successful commercialization of fashion brands that particularly need a huge amount of investments to complete development to the commercial stage.

In the fashion business, footwear, specifically athletic shoes, and foundation garments or lingerie are few categories which have been subject to patent protection for a long period of time. There is another subcategory of patents extending to “DESIGN PATENTS” which protect the ornamental and decorative aspect of functional items. Handbags or shoes which are particularly sculptural or decorative might have a possibility for a design patent.

LATEST TRENDS AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES IN THE FASHION BUSINESS

A good visual imagination and creativity are the most important aspects of the fashion industry. On one hand, the plethora of creativity and visual imagination, help brands achieve recognition and on the other hand, counterfeit and duplicate fashion items pose a major threat to this industry. If one follows the news daily, one may come across several cases of Intellectual Property Rights Infringement around the globe. For instance, there was one case in which the France fashion house, Louis Vuitton sued a women’s shoe retailer in China for selling footwear that strongly replicated noteworthy attributes and features of its latest spring collection. Such cases not only adversely affect the brand’s name and reputation in the fashion industry but also cause a violation of the rights of the original rightful owners.

CONCLUSION

The fashion business is all about creativity and is known to invest an enormous amount of money every season to create new and innovative ideas. In spite of this significant investment, fashion designers usually fail to protect their Intellectual Property due to the growing trends of counterfeit fashion items. Although it is true that it would be almost impossible to entirely remove the issue of counterfeit items and prevent others from copying the design, however, if the innovation is protected in an efficient way, the chances of damage are reduced. Therefore, it is highly imperative that the owners of Intellectual Property should stay alert by seeking the right protection for their brands and creations. Moreover, the governments of all countries should focus on the recent trends of counterfeiting and pass applicable laws for the fashion industry to safeguard the Intellectual Property and enhance their country’s economy.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Intellectual Property

INTRODUCTION

In today’s global innovation economy, the demand for various Intellectual Property Rights related matters like trademarks, patents, copyrights, industrial designs, domain names, to name a few, is increasing at a high pace and becoming more complex. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a promising technology for decades which can be used to offer solutions to age old issues and challenges faced by IP Portfolio Management Services, and has the potential to transform service delivery and administration at IP Offices (IPO).

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), an area of computer science, sometimes called machine intelligence, is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. It consists of machine learning, natural language processing, and speech recognition, expert systems, robotics and machine vision. AI has the ability to quickly manipulate huge volumes of data, efficiently identifying patterns and analyzing the most optimal solution which can be applied to various day-to-day scenarios.

MANAGING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

Intellectual property rights are the legitimate rights given to people over the innovations of their minds like inventions, brands, new technologies, source code and artistic works. In the Intellectual Property industry, AI can be utilized to simplify everyday tasks of manual searches and lengthy decision-making processes. It can also have a profound effect by delivering increased insight from IP data.

ROLE OF AI IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP)

As AI is beginning to enter into almost all business sectors around the world and into every area of human experience, it has become imperative for businesses to create a workable strategy to protect their IP rights in AI.

Corresponding to Intellectual Property, AI can help in:

MINIMISING RISK AND INCREASING EFFICIENCY:

IP administrative tasks take an enormous amount of time in processing IP data and are considered as one of the most risky areas of IP. For example, for every filing of Patent Application, there is a chain of people, processes and paperwork involved. Along the way, many documents are submitted and many items of paperwork will be generated. All this information is then assessed manually and entered into an IP management system, with limitless opportunities for error. However, IP is a valuable asset for every business and a data processing error could cost a lot of money. Therefore, AI which is proficient in processing large sets of data quickly and precisely can offer help in both efficient and accurate ways. As a considerable amount of time is also wasted while the manual labor is involved in inputting data, AI can help in speeding up updating, searching and sorting by using automated data submission.

DRIVING INSIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT:

A large and extensive IP data portfolio is likely to have its own weaknesses which possibly restrict a company’s ability to strategize and manage processes such as renewals. Moreover, the firms are also limited in their staff to successfully oversee and draw insight from the portfolio. However, with the application of AI technology within IP management, large sets of data can be analyzed which shall indicate where a firm’s portfolio of IP is strongest and weakest. It will definitely serve to improve predictions, accuracy and enable companies to know and understand more about the potential opportunities in new markets.

SEARCH PROCESS FOR INCREASING IP ASSETS

Patent filings have been increasing for 20 years and according to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there was a growth of 7.8% in the filing of Patent Application between 2014 and 2015. With the rapid increase in the number of IP assets across the globe, there has been a corresponding increase in the amount of IP data and resources required to process it. With static search databases being the only tool for support, it is becoming more difficult day by day to find relevant information in this vast amount of data.

However, AI and Machine Learning (ML) can be extensively used in not only automating the search process of massive databases but also in improving the accuracy of future searches. Also the research that would have previously taken months to accomplish could be slashed dramatically by deploying AI in the most effective way.

CONCLUSION

AI is now simplifying many jobs by delivering increasingly sophisticated insight into the data of various companies that need to solve complex issues. When it comes to IP portfolio management services, AI can undoubtedly empower IP professionals and experts. As everyday IP tasks can be time intensive, AI can help professionals to advance their processing time and data mining capabilities. This will lead to reduced risk and improved efficiency across the entire boards for law firms and corporate IP departments. This technology will also serve to generate business insight which can open up new markets, expand the scope of Intellectual Property Rights laws and drive improved accuracy while minimizing the risk of IP insight.

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Anti-Counterfeiting Measures and Strategies for Products

In today’s era of rapid globalization, combating illicit trade and protecting your brand’s entity can be a cumbersome, tedious, and often an overwhelming process. Counterfeiting has a negative impact on the innovations and investments of not only the IP Rights holders but of the companies as well. Various counterfeit products like toys, spare parts, and pharmaceuticals are of low quality and pose a huge threat to the health and safety of consumers. Therefore, safeguarding goods and products against counterfeiting has become an increasingly crucial prospect for the IP right holders across the globe. Filing an application form to obtain protection and maintaining a plethora of registered rights only contribute to the first step of acquiring protection towards the IP rights of a firm or a brand.

In the interest of enforceability, companies now organize more anti-counterfeit programs to seek the protection of their registered rights. Nowadays, many of the top managers strongly believe that fighting against counterfeit products is a critical priority as counterfeiters have now become operators of huge manufacturing capacities, sometimes even bigger than the makers of the original brands and entities.

The Anti-Counterfeiting scenario is changing and the IP right holders should acknowledge it by implementing the basic strategies and critical guidelines for protection as mentioned below:

USING LAW PROTECTION:

Law protection and enforcement can turn out to be super beneficial for the IP Right holders to prevent counterfeiters from capturing unauthorized access to the markets. They have the power to suspend the manufacture and release of products suspected to infringe IP Rights. Several big e-Commerce companies like Amazon, Alibaba, to name a few, are now facing lawsuits and proceedings after failing to do enough for protecting their markets against counterfeit goods and services. As a result of the decisions following the lawsuit, few products have already been removed from Amazon and other related companies. Therefore, it is imperative for any country to have a strong legal framework for providing remedies against the wide range and use of counterfeit products.

OBSERVING SERVICES AND MARKET SURVEILLANCE:

IP Right holders should carefully observe the registration of new applicants which could infringe their rights or adversely affect their brand’s reputation. This is generally implemented via “watching services” filtering out only relevant applications which are analyzed to figure out whether any action to raise an opposition is required or not. Such steps if taken in an immediate and efficient way can act as a clear signal to the infringers about how actively the IP Right holders are protecting their brands and entities.

Monitoring online activities is equally important as the internet is considered as a significant gateway for the selling and distribution of counterfeit items. This can be implemented by taking help from specialized firms which can filter the web results to offer relevant findings to the IP Rights owners.

ADDING PROTECTIVE ELEMENTS AND SAFETY FEATURES:

To make it easier for the customers to differentiate between genuine and fake items on their own, products are today produced with safety features and protective elements. These features have attained utmost importance in the market and should be seriously considered by the IP Rights holders.

TRACING AND TRACKING SERVICES:

These services involve tracking and tracing every product from the stage of production to distribution, along the way to stores and second-hand shops. Recently a blockchain platform, known as “AURA” was launched by LVMH, a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate headquartered in Paris, along with Microsoft and ConsenSys. AURA offers powerful and real product tracing and tracking services to verify authenticity of luxury goods in the fashion world. Such initiatives would protect the integrity, interests, and privacy of each brand around the world and shall also safeguard the buyers from low-quality potential counterfeits.

CONCLUSION

In a nutshell, such measures would definitely not serve to put an end to fake trends but the global anti-counterfeiting policy includes a number of elements and strategies which can be taken into consideration while dealing with the potential for the decentralized manufacture of counterfeit goods and services. Naturally, changes to the economy must be observed carefully and policies should be amended and adapted where necessary.