Published on December 10, 2014
IT’ S A WRAP! Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF), the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is calling for an end to fashion piracy. F orever 21 is infamous amongst fashion designers for copying designs and selling knockoffs before or immediately after the designer garment hits stores. In 2007, DVF filed a copyright infringement suit against Forever 21 after they had sold garments that utilized prints that were exclusively owned by DVF since she had registered the print design at the US Copyright Office (Elman 695). DVF, like many of Forever 21’s fashion victims, is calling foul play and is demanding for an end to the company’s piratical business practices. Unlike other professionals working in creative fields such as music of writing, fashion designers are not protected by copyright. Fashion designers in Europe are also given copyright protection thus many designers believe that they should be protected as well. Some emerging designers are concerned about running out of business due to some retailers selling knockoffs in stores before their own designs go up for sale. To combat with pirating some designers have teamed up with mass retailers like Kohl’s, JC Penney, and Target by creating exclusive collections to be sold in those stores. Designers are able to protect their designs and have their clothes sold at affordable prices (Von Furstenberg). Although these partnerships have received positive results, it still has not stopped others from producing and selling knockoffs. In 2006, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act was introduced to Congress with the support of the CFDA. In 2009 it was revised and went by a new title, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA) (Raustiala and Sprigman 35). Under IDPPPA, only original designs can be copyrighted. Once another designer or retailer copies a designer’s work, the copied designer must prove that the offender’s design is significantly identical to the original and that the offender also had an opportunity to view the original design prior to its release to the public. IDPPA protects designs over the course of three years, starting from the time the design is first shown to the public (Jackson 50). Once the three year protection is up, the original designs are brought to the public domain to be available to copy (Von Furstenberg). Currently, nothing has come about the IDPPPA from Congress since its introduction. Many designers are hopeful that copyright legislation will eventually passes in Congress and continue to fight for protection over their designs from copycat retailers.