The fashion industry is a key part of our economy. According to data provided by the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee, Americans spend more than $250 billion each year on clothing and apparel. Of course, the value of apparel is not merely limited to the cost of the materials and production: fashion becomes truly valuable because of innovative designs.
For their business to thrive, fashion designers must be able to protect their unique creations. Fortunately, United States trademark law offers some important protections for fashion designers. Here, our experienced trademark law attorneys highlight four of the most important points designers should know about trademark law.
- To Qualify for Trademark Protection, a Design Must Contain a ‘Source Signifier’
Generally, trademark law is used by companies to protect their brand name and their logo. However, it should be noted fashion designers and fashion companies can also use trademark law for unique elements, such as:
- Patterns; or
- Other design features.
For your design to qualify for trademark protection, it must be a ‘source signifier’. In other words, your fashion design must contain unique and recognizable elements that prompt a certain subset of knowledgeable consumers to naturally associate the specific design with you and your company.
2. There are Advantages to Registering Your Trademark
Unregistered trademarks offer business owners some basic level of protection. However, to obtain full protection, it is highly recommended you obtain a federal trademark registration for your trademark. Should unlawful infringement of your company’s fashion design occur at some point in the future, it will be much easier for you and your company to take legal action if your ‘mark’ is registered.
2. Copyright Protection May Also Be Available for Fashion Designs
While trademark law provides the primary tools that allow fashion designers to protect their innovative creations, fashion designers may also have the ability to obtain copyright protection for certain key parts of their designs. To be clear, fashion designs are not entitled to copyright protection under U.S. law. However, certain limited elements of fashion designs, such as drawings or color schemes, might be eligible for copyright protection.
3. Fashion Designers Should Take Action to Protect Their Products
Finally, it is important for all fashion designers to remember that U.S. trademark law is not self-enforcing. If you fail to take legal action, you will likely not be able to put a stop to the trademark infringement. Further, if a fashion designer inexcusably ‘sleeps on their rights’, they may lose out on the ability to file a successful trademark infringement claim in the future.
4. Contact Our Trademark Law Attorneys Today
At Maldjian Law Group LLC, our law firm is committed to helping our clients protect their trademark rights. Our top-rated trademark attorneys have extensive experience handling cases involving fashion designs. To request a fully confidential review of your case, please contact our legal team today at (732) 889-1311. From offices in Tinton Falls, NJ and New York City, we represent clients in New Jersey, New York and throughout the entire United States.