Protecting Design

The greatest asset a designer has is his or her creativity. The CFDA works on several annual initiatives to address piracy and counterfeiting, in order to protect designers’ intellectual and creative property.


The greatest asset a designer has is their creativity. The satisfaction of purchasing and then wearing a designer brand comes from knowing the investment of human capital that went into that product, knowing and respecting the creative mind that imagined it in the first place and imagining the steps it took to bring that product to you. When that creativity is stolen from a designer, it compromises their business.


Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA)

Accounting for more than four million U.S. workers and $350 billion in annual retail sales, the U.S. fashion industry represents one of the nation’s largest drivers of economic growth. It also represents a core outlet for artistic expression. To that end, the U.S. fashion industry has been actively engaged in a decade-long public policy dialogue about intellectual property and fashion design.

At its core, this dialogue is about establishing an intellectual property right for the three-dimensional design of an article of clothing or footwear. This discussion has wrapped the industry in a very serious question: How do we protect truly original and innovative fashion design without stifling creativity, spurring frivolous lawsuits, and hindering the industry’s ability to do business?

The Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA, S. 3523), legislation introduced by Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) in September 2012, represents a practical and workable approach to the real but narrow issue of design piracy. This legislation extends intellectual property protections to never-before-seen fashion designs while preserving the industry’s ability to explore trends and conduct business without undue interference. Most importantly, this legislation significantly clamps down on frivolous lawsuits by clearly defining the infringement standard allowing trends to flourish at top speed.

Not to be confused with previous, broader versions of design piracy legislation, the IDPA encapsulates the compromise reached between the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). This compromise was reached more than two years ago with some improvements designed to strengthen the underlying legislation.

First, this legislation offers any new design a short three-year protection term so long as it is truly original.  In other words, if the design has been seen before, it cannot be protected under the IDPA. Further, only deliberate copies that are “substantially identical” to protected designs are prohibited under the legislation.  To be substantially identical, a garment must be so similar in appearance that it is likely to be mistaken for the protected design.

Design Manifesto

As part of its continuing efforts to put an end to design piracy and copyright infringement, the CFDA created a Design Manifesto highlighting the elements of good and original design.  13 simple word define the manifesto.  They are: ideas, creativity, inspiration, passion, originality, business, experience, integrity, innovation, reputation, respect, confidence, and talent.  It also incorparates the creed Design It. Protect it. In 2011, the inaugural manifesto was designed by Pentagram and was debuted at the Narciso Rodriguez show during New York Fashion Week in September 2011.  The Box created the 2012 Manifesto, with it’s debut at the Prabal Gurung show in Septmeber 2012 New York Fashion Week.  In 2013 we are working with Buero New York.  The manifesto is printed on posters and notebooks and delivered to designers, students, manufacturers and other CFDA associates working in fashion.

You Can't Fake Fashion

The CFDA and eBay have partnered together on three iterations of the YOU CAN’T FAKE FASHION, a bold campaign designed to continue to raise awareness against counterfeit goods and celebrate original design within the fashion industry. Following the sold-out 2011 summer collection, a collective of 76 CFDA designers–Including CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, John Varvatos, Rachel Roy, The Row and more–have each customized a tote as one-of-a-kind. Catering to the unique styles of eBay shoppers, a limited-edition of four standard tote styles– bucket, duffle, gear and satchel – featuring the YOU CAN’T FAKE FASHION tagline are also available. In 2011 and 2012, the totes were accessible at fixed, Buy It Now prices; the designer totes retail for $200 and the standard totes for $45. For the first time in 2013, the totes were set as at a starting price of $50 and buyers were given the option to continually bid on their favorite tote. The totes are sold exclusively on eBay at and all proceeds benefit the CFDA Foundation.