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  • In February 2015 Gucci unveiled this very furry shoe.

  • I love this ridiculous thing.

  • I can't afford to spend $1000, but no problem!

  • I can buy this knockoff.

  • Or this one.

  • So, which of these are legal?

  • Trick question.

  • And it's a constant fight in the fashion industry.

  • In the US, you can protect songs.

  • “I like those Balenciaga's, the ones that look...”

  • Movies.

  • That blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs…”

  • Or paintings.

  • Why not fashion designs?

  • Knockoffsmostly are not counterfeits.

  • People tend to conflate them but they're not the same.

  • This is a counterfeit.

  • It copies the symbols of the brand that made the original.

  • So counterfeits are typically illegal.

  • Knockoffs, on the other hand, just resemble the design of the original.

  • And that's usually fine.

  • That's because intellectual property laws only protect some kinds of designs.

  • A trademark is any symbol that indicates to consumers the source of products or services.

  • This medallion on the front, which is the Tory Burch logo, tells you where the flat

  • comes from. It comes from Tory Burch.

  • A patent is different.

  • A useful and novel invention.

  • They don't work for most fashion designers because you can't get damages until it's

  • granted and by the time it's granted most fashions are out of fashion.

  • In fashion, the main battleground is

  • Copyright.

  • That is the right exclusively to copy or to distribute an artistic or literary work that

  • is original.

  • Like

  • You're wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room.”

  • But not...

  • The shape of this shoe is not copyrightable.

  • Fashion designs are typically thought of as useful articles.

  • Copyright doesn't protect useful things.

  • It only protects artistic or literary things.

  • Unlike a song or a movie, a shoe or a T-shirt has utility as much as design.

  • Butwhat about this?

  • Not my thing?

  • This might seem at a certain level to be kind of bizarre.

  • But there is nonetheless a useful aspect to the garment.

  • It does possibly keep you warm.

  • Wait!

  • It's art!

  • Sort of.

  • And now

  • It's a gown.

  • You have copyright on the painting.

  • I can certainly have a copyright on the fabric design.

  • I can't have a copyright on the shape of the dress.

  • The Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet will come to

  • order.

  • The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God.

  • Fashion design is intellectual property that deserves protection.

  • We create something from nothing at all.

  • And in't that the American dream?

  • I don't agree with you.

  • But you're very impressive in your testimony.

  • They say, well, we're artists and we deserve protection.

  • The answer to that argument is at least in the States we don't tend to make decisions

  • about intellectual property based on what people deserve.

  • We tend to make decisions based on what we think is healthy for creativity.

  • The Constitution does give Congress the right to stop copying, but only topromote the

  • progressof creative industries.

  • When you look at countries across the world, you'll see that there's a correlation

  • between the strength of intellectual property laws and higher GDP.

  • But in fashion, Sprigman believes that it's actually the ability to copy that promotes

  • progress.

  • Fashion designers take "inspiration," as they put it, from existing designs and they do this

  • with abandon.

  • But this is what creates trends, and trends sell fashion.

  • When the copying proceeds to a certain point, fashion forward people have had enough.

  • They jump off.

  • They jump on to the new trend that copying has helped to set.

  • This rapid cycle, created by the freedom to copy, actually forces the fashion industry

  • to innovate.

  • If you look at the prices of fashion goods over time, what you see is that that top ten percent

  • of fashion goods in terms of price, the price of these is going up and up and up over time.

  • Whereas everything else, those prices are staying stable or maybe falling a little bit

  • over time.

  • It doesn't seem like competition from knockoffs is disciplining the price of the luxury stuff.

  • What seems to be happening in the fashion industry is what's happening in America and

  • indeed in the world.

  • The rich are getting richer disproportionately, and the clothes they wear as a result are

  • getting much more expensive.

  • The people who make those clothes, the companies that make those clothes, are profiting.

  • New technology and the speed of production has amplified the two views on knockoffs.

  • Today, digital images from runway shows in New York can be uploaded to the Internet within

  • minutes, and be copied, and offered for sale online within days, which is months before

  • the designer is able to deliver the original garments to stores.

  • That practice was not handed to us by God or by law.

  • If the industry at the high end was very concerned about the speed of imitation, that practice

  • would change.

  • It isn't.

  • So it's hard to protect fashion designs because it's not obvious that protecting

  • them promotes progress.

  • And from a legal perspective, that's all that matters.

  • Even though to the artists, that's not the only thing at stake.

In February 2015 Gucci unveiled this very furry shoe.

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Why this Gucci knockoff is totally legal

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/26
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