News & Scoops

2009 May 1

America v. Pirates: Fashion Edition

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(NEW YORK) From the "Prado" bags that line Canal Street storefronts to the suspiciously Diane Von Furstenberg-esque dresses at Forever 21, fashion piracy is an issue dealt with by designers, retailers, and consumers alike. Although the government has cracked down on the more obvious occurrences of this piracy in fashion (the counterfeit sort, often occurring on the aforementioned Canal Street), the harder-to-track design piracy offenses still remained legal in the United States--until now. Steven Kolb took Michelle Obama favorites Narciso Rodriguez, Thakoon Panichgul, Jason Wu, and Maria Cornejo to Washington, D.C. last week to lobby Congress for its support of the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA)—and celebrate it’s reintroduction. "American designers should be afforded the same protection that other creative industries like music and film are given,” says Kolb. “Original design ideas are as much intellectual property to a designer as lyrics and notes are to a musician. Without protection the very foundation of their business is at risk."

The American fashion industry, a $350 billion annual business, has taken a hit from the current economic status, and Kolb stressed that piracy is hitting it while it’s down. "Coupled with piracy from foreign importers, the economic reality for American designers, most of whom are small businesses, is catastrophic," he said. "This downturn also hurts industries that support fashion including printing, trucking, distribution, magazine publishers, advertising, publicity, merchandising, and retail. America’s designers are some of the most creative in the world. Their creativity can help fuel America’s economic comeback but they need to be protected against the hijacking of their creations by pirates.”

Representatives Delahunt, Nadler and Goodlatte in the U.S. House of Representatives reintroduced the act after Kolb and the designers met with key members of Congress that oversee copyright legislation. What remains to be seen is how fast-fashion retailers (often on the receiving end of copyright infringement lawsuits) like Forever 21 and Zara respond to the new legislation…

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