Three strikes, you’re out! Yes? No?
The Boston Globe reports that NY Senator Charles Schumer is preparing to reintroduce the Design Piracy Prohibition Act for the fourth time. His latest effort has been buoyed by Jeannie Suk, feminist cum fashionista at Harvard Law School who recently authored a paper entitled Law, Culture and the Economics of Fashion. From the Boston Globe:
Suk says she found it strange that there were laws in place protecting artists and writers, but not fashion designers. She was also concerned that this anomaly could deter people from going into fashion design.
Other than that there are existing laws and regulations to protect designers that aren’t being enforced, I’ll grant she knows more about law than I do but then I know more about apparel than she does. If the DPPA passes, our problem won’t be limited to deterring people from coming into the industry, it’ll be keeping the ones we already have alive. Under DPPA, every DE will have to spend incalculable thousands of dollars on legal fees to prove originality of their concepts or they’re not going to find a contractor who will sew it up for them. They won’t be able to find retail buyers either. Without indemnity, who wants to get sued and go to prison?
I suggest writing Jeannie and Chuck to say DPPA is not the best way to ensure the viability of emerging enterprises. You’re in an enviable position if you can sew and sell it yourself. Unfortunately, 90% of what’s left of the domestic apparel industry will be out of business, no matter how stringent one’s ethical standards are. DPPA amounts to legislating a situation astroturfing monopolists can only dream of. It supports DVF who copies other designers at the expense of emerging talent like most of you. You can also sign our ongoing petition.
You know what’s striking about this mess? That a fashion lawyer like Staci Riordan who was raised in the apparel industry -she’s fourth generation!- also thinks DPPA is a cruddy idea. You may admire her after reading some of her advice (Fashion Law Blog) while I’ll settle for bearing her children.
In other related IP news, courtesy of Fashion & Apparel Law Blog, Burlington Coat Factory is up to more hi jinks. Just what is it with BCF? First it was selling banned products 14 years after the ban, now they’re lost a court case with Fendi. Fendi successfully sued BCF in 1987 for selling pirated Fendi goods, garnering an injunction. On numerous occasions in the ensuing 20 plus years, Fendi served notice that BCF was continuing to sell pirated products. BCF’s defense? They claim Fendi’s quality control was insufficient to monitor its marks meaning Fendi had abandoned its rights. Fendi? Of LVMH IP infamy? Provided you don’t expire from laughing too hard, you can only admire the sheer chutzpah. Maybe BCF is vying for Forever 21’s infamous top slot?
The circuitous summary being, retailers are going to be vigilant if unwilling enforcers if DPPA comes to pass, incurring their own expenses and increasing prices to consumers in the process.
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