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2010 December 1

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes IDPPA

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Senator Charles Schumer Senator Charles Schumer
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(NEW YORK) It's a good day for designers. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPA), a bill that provides three years of copywright protection for "unique and original designs." Considered a major victory for fashion designers and their intellectual property rights, this bill extends beyond the preexisting proection of prints, unique elements, and jewelry to prohibit identical knockoffs of new designs. In order for pieces to infringe upon the law, they must be extremely close copies of the original designs; consumers will not be held legally responsible for accidental purchases. In addition to supporting established fashion houses, the IDPPA also protects informal designers who develop individual pieces for personal use. 

The bill was sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer and introduced in August. Schumer brokered negotiations between the CFDA and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which previously served as principal opponent of such legislation such as the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA). The DPPA was introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in 2006, but ultimately stalled in Congress. The AAFA has argued that a flood of applications would beseige the Copyright Office, the protection standards were not well-defined, and the infringement standars were not sufficiently clear. Ultimately, earning support for extending copyright protection to fashion design has been challenging because lower-priced knockoffs are believed to benefit consumers.

But the new legislation may be considered a step towards further regulation. Under the IDPPA, for example, a strapless black gown worn by a celebrity on the red carpet would not be entitled to protection, but something like a Chanel faux fur boot with a lucite, ice-shaped heel would be considered sufficiently new, unique, and original. This law will make designers the responsible parties, and compel them to endow their designs with specific creative elements that fit the stringent criteria. "It was a long time coming, and I feel like fashion history was made today," said CFDA executive director Steven Kolb. "We are so pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously based our bill, and we're thankful to Senator Schumer and the entire committee for their support of our industry."

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