Fashion shows: 5 tips to protect creations

Marcello Mantelli
Avvocato in Milan and Turin

The various fashion weeks, fashion shows in general, and all the on-line and off-line events that aim to promote clothing in public are essential tools for the launch of the products of companies in the fashion & luxury sector.

Due to the Pandemic, from 2020 the promotion of fashion products now concerns social networks, websites and telematic channels and therefore the on-line world in general, in a more massive way than in the past: now SMEs are also operating online in order to reach an increasing number of users via Instagram, Facebook live and so on.

From this situation, it is increasing the need also for SMEs to focus on the sphere of the so-called “digital rights” both as regards the correct processing of online consumers’ personal data (but not only) and as regards the prevention and protection against the risks of violation of intellectual and industrial property rights connected with the public events mentioned above and more generally with the online “loading” of fashion & luxury products for promotional purposes.

The new marketing policies now require an assessment on the adoption of adequate measures for the effective protection of fashion shows and the related system of intellectual and industrial property rights. Today we provide some information on the protection of fashion shows.

The first form of protection that can be guaranteed in the context of fashion shows concerns the protection of design, that is “the appearance of a product”, which results from the combination of lines, colors and decorations that can be three-dimensional (for example a bag or a finished item) or two-dimensional (for example the fabric used).

To be protected, the design must necessarily be new and original. Only in this way it can be registered and thus it can receive adequate protection over time (the unregistered design, in fact, has a minor protection that lasts only three years, starting from when it is made available to the public). The registered design instead (EU Registered Design) allows protection for a period of 5 years, renewable up to 5 times, for a total duration of 25 years. It should be noted, however, that protection is usually granted to design in the territory in which it first comes to existence; therefore, in the case of online events, the protection may be present for some countries but not for others.

Another form of intellectual property protection lies in the protection of copyright, which is essential when it comes to fashion shows, as a form of protection of concretely realized ideas. Especially during the Pandemic, copyright guaranteed the protection of the products, allowing them to be distributed on a large scale.

Although, unlike the design and the trademark, copyright is an unregistered right, the protection provided by it allows the owner to use the artwork and prevent others from using it. Furthermore, the owner is the holder of economic (transferable against a fee or royalties) and moral rights (very personal rights that can never be transferred) that last for his entire life and up to 70 years after death.

Another typical tool for protecting fashion shows is trademark registration, that is, by registering the distinctive sign that distinguishes the products (or services) offered by a certain company. Unlike copyright, the registered trademark allows to obtain intellectual property protection for a period of 10 years from the date of filing, renewable in time for 10 consecutive years without time limits or deadlines.

In this sense, therefore, the trademark – better if registered – can provide fundamental protection for the fashion show, as it helps to protect the public from the risks of confusion and deceit, and at the same time it protects the brand to which it belongs from possible imitations (unfair competition).

In general, in addition to the protection offered to all third parties, it is also essential to carefully regulate all contractual relationships with the subjects who participate in the creation of the product for the fashion show and the creation of the event. For example, the contracts with the stylist, for the use of the location, the stipulation of the related licenses and the various employment contracts, the supply of services, etc.

Given that there are several possible means for the protection of off-line and on-line fashion shows, it is necessary to evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, which is the most adequate and economically reasonable tool in terms of budget that can be faced by a SME in order to benefit from the best protection related to the circumstances.

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