In the US, fashion design is recognized as an intellectual property, but the only protection for fashion design is the trademark law, which restricts copying logos, brand names, and special patterns. European countries, however, generally have laws to protect fashion design. In France, fashion, garment designs, and fashion shows are protected because they are classified as applied art in 1793. the EU also has laws to protect unregistered designs for three years and registered designs for 25 years.
Then why the US government has not introduced new laws to protect fashion designs? Some claims that copyright protection for fashion design will harm the market. No design is completely original. Designers all take some traits of others’ work. Different fashion trends in each year are essentially about similar styles. Trends will no longer exist if designers are not allowed to create works of similar styles.
Although fashion design is not eligible for copyright protection, there are still ways to protect it in the US. The trademark laws can protect indications of resources, such as logos and brand names. The design patent law can protect the ornamental design elements of a functional product. And the utility patent law offers protections for special materials and manufacturing process.
Comparing to the EU, the US has only a limited number of laws to protect fashion design. Although people have concerns about whether copyright protection for fashion design will restrict the development of fashion market, the US should still introduce some new laws to protect designers’ intellectual properties. After all, even with the copyright protection, the fashion industry is still very powerful in the EU.