Fashion & Intellectual Property

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

Fashion industry is at an all-time high and the present size of the market is a $US1 Billion. Many established players together with new designers are operating within the market. One of the key factors leading to the growth of successful fashion houses and of the fashion industry in general is the brand consciousness and the bond which is shared between the customers/clients and the fashion houses. The bond that fashion houses develop with their clients can be attributed to the popularity of their logos or house marks. Consequently securing these logos becomes paramount for these fashion houses.

Introduction of Intellectual Property (IP) in Fashion Industry

Many brands within the fashion industry guard their logos or emblems under “Trademark Law.”However, most of these brands do not pay adequate amount of attention to other intellectual properties that they create in course of their business which should also be protected, for example, fashion layouts. A fashion enterprise spends huge sums of money and time to create new and authentic layouts each season. There are many steps that a designer or a fashion house may take to secure the rights over an original fashion layout or design, but before that let us appreciate the importance of securing such rights. The following incidents which were well captured by the various news reports will clearly highlight the importance of securing such rights:

  1. The 2018 cruise collection of Christian Dior which Sonam Kapoor Ahuja wore for the Elle India cover was allegedly copied from Indian Designer Orijit Sen. According to designer Orijit Sen, one of the co-founders of People Tree, the print on the Dior dress was a blatant rip off of Sen’s brand that he had created and began selling more than 10 years prior and is still producing in 2018. Further, he says “he had never worked with Dior or any other major fashion brand.” He also says he was“never approached by Dior or any other related label for permission to use the design.” Now Dior and Mr Sen have managed to come to a settlement for an undisclosed amount.
  2. Another incident is from 2017 when the designer Rahul Mishra sent a legal notice to a high-end clothing brand alleging plagiarism.
  3. Yet another incident of plagiarism involves the allegation that Shweta Bachchan Nanda and Monisha Jaising’s fashion label MxS copied the laundry room “AIRPLANE MODE” sweatshirt design.




Now let us understand how IP rights can reduce risk and enhance competitiveness of all types of businesses in the fashion industry.

Copyright: Copyright is first and most crucial IP on the subject of fashion industry. Copyright guarantees protection for artistic work to artists and designers. The most important criteria for securing a copyright are originality and uniqueness. Why should Copyright be the first choice of IP in fashion industry?

    1. Rights over copyright will start from the day the work is created. (As fashion trends may change seasonally, having a right from first date would be great)
    2. Copyright is secured almost globally (139 countries) thus it is not bound geographically.
    3. Term of copyright is lifetime of the artist plus 60 years from the year in which artist dies.
    4. Remedy against infringement lies in criminal law as well as under civil law.

Designs: According to The Designs Act, 2000, which is a law enacted by the Indian Parliament, a design means only the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament or composition of lines or colours applied to any article whether in two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms, by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye; but does not include any mode or principle of construction or anything which is in substance a mere mechanical device, and does not include any trademark or property mark or any artistic work.

Thus, The Designs Act, 2000 covers all articles of clothing, haberdashery, garments, head wear, footwear and many others. Registration of design is a vital device in the hands of stylists, fashion designers and the entire fashion industry to secure the rights over their new and original fashion layouts, designs etc. In this regards, Section 22 of The Designs Act, 2000 clearly states that during the existence of copyright in any design it shall not be lawful for any person:
(a) for the purpose of sale to apply or cause to be applied to any article in any class of articles in which the design is registered, the design or any fraudulent or obvious imitation thereof, except with the license or written consent of the registered proprietor, or to do anything with a view to enable the design to be so applied; or
(b) to import for the purposes of sale, without the consent of the registered proprietor, any article belonging to the class in which the design has been registered, and having applied to it the design or any fraudulent or obvious imitation thereof; or
(c) knowing that the design or any fraudulent or obvious imitation thereof has been applied to any article in any class of articles in which the design is registered without the consent of the registered proprietor, to publish or expose or cause to be published or exposed for sale that article.

Trademark: The aforementioned example of AIRPLANE MODE sweatshirt clearly highlights the importance of trademark protection in the fashion industry.Trademark registration helps in providing an exclusive legal right that stops any third person from using a quote or phrase which is similar to the registered trademark. Securing the rights over a brand name by filing for the registration of trademark is also very important part of any commercial enterprise. Thus, trademark is another IP that fashion enterprises must become aware of and must look into.

Trademark (Shape): Further, a distinctive shape of an article can be protected under the trademark law in India. Trademark shape is crucial for footwear, bags etc.
Fashion Industry is booming and therefore all the players in the industry must realize the importance of IP in securing their designs and products from infringement. Ralph Lauren once said, “I don’t design clothes. I design dreams. “No one should let anyone else copy their dreams.
All views expressed in the blog are my own and do not constitute the opinions of any entity in any way with which I’ve been, am now or could be affiliated.

Author: Paras Khurana, IP Attorney at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

fifteen − eight =


  • September 2022
  • August 2022
  • July 2022
  • June 2022
  • May 2022
  • April 2022
  • March 2022
  • February 2022
  • January 2022
  • December 2021
  • November 2021
  • October 2021
  • September 2021
  • August 2021
  • July 2021
  • June 2021
  • May 2021
  • April 2021
  • March 2021
  • February 2021
  • January 2021
  • December 2020
  • November 2020
  • October 2020
  • September 2020
  • August 2020
  • July 2020
  • June 2020
  • May 2020
  • April 2020
  • March 2020
  • February 2020
  • January 2020
  • December 2019
  • November 2019
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • August 2019
  • July 2019
  • June 2019
  • May 2019
  • April 2019
  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • October 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • September 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010