The article 'Fashion Law and Its Scope' aims to briefly encompass how fashion law has opened up various opportunities along with the reason behind its evolution.

The article 'Fashion Law and Its Scope' aims to briefly encompass how fashion law has opened up various opportunities along with the reason behind its evolution.

Fashion law is one field of law that has evolved and developed significantly over the years despite not being popular. Fashion law is a broad term that covers several legal issues such as contract law, arbitration, labour law, intellectual property law, etc. It's about privacy, consumer preferences and unrestrained consumption. The word "fashion" evolved in the contemporary fast society with the progress of technology. This became the generally accepted standard for identifying individuals by their style of dress, extending to the quality of "marks".

As it was once said, "Dressing for the job you want shows the importance of the perfect clothes." The fashion of the 21st century is not only limited to clothing but also extends to nanotechnology, e-commerce, personalized clothing, innovative fabrics, and wearable technologies such as smart watches, Fitbit, smart clothes, etc.

Introduction

Fashion is one of the factors of social and interpersonal relations because it stimulates and influences cultural understanding. Hence, it is essential to ensure that it is regulated through appropriate guidelines and measures. Despite its drastic advancement, clients in the fashion industry face numerous legal and business challenges that can severely impact even the best-run organizations. Fashion is an art form, and therefore the industry is based on the creativity and ideas of designers. Exclusivity is a tool of every brand and company operating in this market to approach a certain class of people as snobs and differentiate them from others.

The bigger the brand, the bigger the appeal and thus the demand for the product and the financial profit. This copying or counterfeiting poses a serious threat not only to the presence of international fashion brands in India but also to the economy. Fashion lawyers help their clients with legal issues related to style, materials, clothing, luxury, shoes, gems and beauty products - cosmetic companies. These include everything from contract acceptance, marketing, transfer and diversification to licensed innovations/intellectual property, business and workforce issues. The fine line between creativity and theft is constantly debated in the fashion world. The various parties in the industry must understand the laws that protect them from piracy and infringement claims in such a contested environment.

Rights and Responsibilities of a Fashion Lawyer

Fashion lawyers provide valuable advice to their clients on legal matters, including the fashion, luxury, footwear, textile, apparel, jewellery and cosmetics industries. They guide in areas such as licensing, distribution, franchising, intellectual property rights; and matters related to employment. These include safety, sustainability and consumer protection issues. Various aspects of corporate, financial, real estate, tax and commercial law also come into the picture.

Fashion lawyers perform a wide variety of tasks, from establishing and cancelling business entities, and advising on brand development and protection, to drafting and negotiating contracts, arbitration and litigation in trademark, copyright and other intellectual property matters.

Case Laws

1) Ritika Private Limited v. Biba Apparels Private Limited[1]

In the case of Ritika Apparels, one of the party exactly copied the design of another party designer, made some changes and sold it under her name. The party whose design was copied went to court claiming copyright infringement. But Biba (defendant) argued that there was no such thing because according to Section 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 1957 it was such an infringement that the plaintiff had already lost his copyright because it was more than 50 times, including the production of that model of the industry. Another thing was that Ritika did not register her designs under the Designs Act, her brand had no other means to protect that design than to produce products with the same design less than fifty times.

Thus, the defendant company BIBA exploited this loophole in intellectual property rights and thus was not held liable. This case can be considered an important case because the designer who claimed that his designs were copied did not know and was not aware of the Indian Fashion Intellectual Property Rights Act. If the design solution had been registered under the Design Act, in 2000 the same design solution would have been protected for a total of 10+5 years. But perhaps the designer wanted to maintain the monopoly of the same design for a longer period and thus used the copyright law that was later turned against him, thus absolving BIBA of any liability.

2) Rajesh Masrani v. Tahiliani Design Pvt. Ltd.[2]

In this case, the plaintiff Tarun Tahiliani Pvt. Ltd., is a well-known name in the fashion industry with a reputation in more than 20 countries. The plaintiff brought an offence against the defendant under copyright law because Rajesh Masrani reproduced their canvas prints, including their drawings or sketches, or the plaintiff's copyrighted works, including works of art. According to the right of honour, the plaintiff's work is an original work of art and is protected by Section 2(c) of the Copyright Act.

As the work was an "artistic performance", it was not registrable under section 2(d) of the Designs Act 2000, and section 15(2) did not apply. In addition, the court noted that the plaintiff's work was copied twenty times, which negates the need for Section 15 (2) of the Copyright Act, which prohibits the extension of copyright to a design solution that can be registered under the Design Act, but which was not done, did this for a model that was copied more than fifty times.

3) Christian Louboutin v. Mr Pawan Kumar & Ors.[3]

This is another very famous and well-known case in India. Christian Louboutin is a major brand known for stylized designer shoes engaged in selling counterfeit products at lower prices, causing damage to both the brand name and the company's coffers. Christian Louboutin Red Sole shoes are quite popular among celebrities and red heels are quite fashionable among customers who want to imitate the fashion and style of their favourite celebrity. Branded shoes are very expensive, so most people cannot afford them. The Louboutin brand has a high reputation and is a larger brand known for producing high-end shoes and bags ... Louboutin shoes are known for their signature red soles, which are common to all his creations and are distributed through several channels and stores. Louboutin products are protected by trademark laws, and the brand's goodwill and reputation existed even before the brand's official entry into the Indian market.

The defendants began to market many counterfeits of the well-known red-soled shoe, but in different colours, where the soles were red, but the rest of the parts were a different colour. In this case, the plaintiff, Christian Louboutin, went to court seeking a permanent injunction and damages against two stores (Kamala Footwear and Adara Steps) that sell fake Red Sole Shoes. The court held that the defendants had to pay a total of Rs. 10.72 Lakh, though they were banned permanently from selling the fakes again. In his decision, the judge declared Christian Louboutin a well-known trademark, a trademark desired by every trademark owner. Louboutin's trademark infringement and the successful prosecution of the accused shoe store owners are excellent examples of how a designer or brand owner needs to protect their brand.

4) Puma SE v. Forever 21, Inc. [4]

The German sportswear giant sued the clothing company Forever 21 for copying a shoe design created by Fenty beauty Rihanna for Puma. In light of the aforementioned case, Puma filed a lawsuit against Forever 21 at the beginning of April. is significant. This follows a report that Forever 21 is offering Puma-like versions of Rihanna's Fenty shoe line. Puma has filed a design patent, trade dress and copyright lawsuit against Forever 21.

According to Puma's suit, Forever 21 copied the three most prominent drop trends from Rihanna's collection for Puma to "trade on the significant goodwill between Puma, Rihanna and Fenty footwear." Puma filed design patents, trade dresses and copyright infringement claims. Puma's lawyer also applied for Star Athletic v. Varsity Brands' ruling, citing the following: "Fenty's copyright (1) may be considered a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from Fenty Shoes, and (2) should be protected as a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. Such or attached to some other tangible means of expression."

5) Navajo Nation v. Urban Outfitters [5]

Navajo tribal prints have been used on many products that Urban Outfitters has released. From clothing to perfumes and underwear, the collection had a wide range of items, all featuring prints. In 2012, Navajo leaders filed a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters for using their models without permission and selling merchandise in their name. Another great example of how companies and designers don't feel the need to negotiate or credit their sources. In the making is the unauthorized use of the name "Navajo" for commercial gain. Consent, credit and compensation are international concepts that apply to all legal systems.

I believe the same should be implemented and followed in large-scale industries as well, copying/taking inspiration from the works of tribal or small-scale and rural industries. The above examples show how the original work of the tribal people is not properly appreciated. Big companies are not only stealing from the tribal people but also many other great inventions, and because these people are not aware of this, the big brands are not achieving anything. As these problems become more and more common, I think stricter rules should be allowed. There is a need to pass a separate model law to ensure consistency and clarity between all parties on the same issue.

Scope and Career Opportunities

After completing a full-time JD or LLM course or fashion law degree, you can apply for jobs in various fields as mentioned below:

Law Firms

An increasing number of law firms and consultancies are focusing on fashion law due to the growing demand for transactional, contractual and litigation services. People with more experience in this field are preferred.

• Fashion houses

Fashion lawyers are especially valuable as in-house counsel due to the nature of this business, which requires legal professionals with multidisciplinary experts who understand complex legal issues at the national, international and international levels. Fashion designers seek consultation on copyright protection of clothing and accessories, such as trademarks, and also seek assistance in patenting their work.

• Textile, jewellery and high-tech sectors

Bringing fashion products to market involves multiple stages and a wide range of activities, often performed by different suppliers and partners, which can include complex contract negotiations, shared responsibility for transport and distribution, copyright protection and patent rights. The fashion legal industry is an emerging legal arena with many opportunities for law students and attorneys interested in the field. This is a fresh arena where lawyers are entering the fashion world and bringing their legal expertise to the table.

Conclusion

The fashion industry around the world has grown over time and thus achieved an important position in the global economy. This has led to the growth of intellectual property rights in the fashion industry as well, with designers working day and night to create new and fresh designs every day. But somehow, this growth is hampered by copying and fashion piracy, which has become a problem in the fashion industry. Additionally, designers should have an easier and simpler procedure to register their pieces.

There should also be protection for unregistered designs, and thirdly, provision for the protection of unregistered designs should also be included in the Designs Act 2000. It is extremely important to understand that such duplication and counterfeiting not only hurts international fashion brands flowing out of India but also hinder economic growth. Better and stricter enforcement of intellectual property law is therefore urgently needed. Designers should be allowed to protect their models, created after enormous manual labour, against copying and prevent them from being sold at a lower price. It is important to strengthen copyright law, design law, patent law and trademark law. The Constitution guarantees everyone the freedom to choose a profession. Therefore it is the duty of the state to ensure that such laws are made for the fashion industry so that there is no exploitation or abuse of the creativity of any designer.

References

[1] CS(OS) No. 182/2011

[2] FAO (OS) No.393/2008

[3] CS(COMM) 714/2016

[4] No. CV17-2523 PSG Ex, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211140 (C.D. Cal. June 29, 2017)

[5] Navajo Nation v. Urban Outfitters, Inc. - 212 F. Supp. 3d 1098 (D.N.M. 2016)

[6] Fashion Law in India, Available Here

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R Shakthivel

R Shakthivel

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