Schumer Introduces Legislation to Protect Fashion Design

Washington, DC – Following a year of detailed negotiations with fashion industry stakeholders, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) today introduced the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (S. 3728), a realistic and practical approach that will offer intellectual property protection to unique and original fashion designs.

Supported by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), this legislation will for the first time allow creative American designers to benefit from legal protections and at the same time continue to ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. apparel and footwear industry as it delivers fashionable and affordable clothing to consumers.

“After a year of negotiations, I am pleased we were able to find agreement on the issue of fashion design piracy,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “The AAFA would like to extend gratitude to Senator Schumer for his diligent work bringing all the stakeholders to the table to reach a practical solution. As we move forward, AAFA will continue to seek the strongest trademark and copyright protections for the U.S. apparel and footwear industry competing in the global market for the benefit of their brand reputations, employees, and consumers.”

“When the CFDA originally launched the campaign to bring intellectual property protection to fashion design, our goal was to give a new generation of American designers the recognition and support they need to grow their businesses into household names” said CFDA Executive Director Steven Kolb. “We have worked closely, under the leadership of Senator Schumer, with the AAFA and the industry to create a law that will provide long overdue protection our industry deserves. America is the world fashion leader, and yet it is basically the only industrialized country that does not provide protection for fashion design. This bill is good news in that it promotes creativity and thus strengthens the fashion industry’s significant contribution to a healthy and working economy.”

The U.S. fashion industry’s competitiveness in the global marketplace rests on its ability to be creative and innovative while delivering quality products to market. Fashion design has remained until now an industry with limited options for intellectual property protection for even the most unique designs.

The new bill will provide a short, three-year term of protection to new and original fashion designs, while leaving every design ever created prior to enactment of the bill in the public domain. Only deliberate copies that are substantially identical to protected designs will be prohibited by law, and neither consumers nor retailers will be liable for inadvertently buying or selling illegal copies. There is also an exception for home sewers who will be permitted to copy a protected design for personal use or the use of a family member.

In addition to its clear, specific, and narrowly tailored scope of protection, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act includes procedural provisions that will discourage frivolous litigation. In particular, the plaintiff will have to plead specific facts establishing that he has a case. If a dispute does arise, a defendant will be entitled to show that the design in question was created separately and independently from the protected design or that it was copied from a design already in the public domain.

Senator Schumer, the AAFA, and the CFDA are confident that this legislation will bolster the American fashion industry by encouraging creativity, protecting innovation and enhancing the status of the designer.

Background

American Apparel & Footwear Association

AAFA is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. AAFA’s mission is to promote and enhance its members’ competitiveness, productivity and profitability in the global market by minimizing regulatory, commercial, political, and trade restraints. To learn more about AAFA, visit www.apparelandfootwear.org.

Council of Fashion Designers of America

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc, (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association that leads industry-wide initiatives and whose membership consists of more than 370 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, which recognize the top creative talent in the industry, the organization offers programs which support professional development and scholarships, including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar Award, the Liz Claiborne Scholarship Award, and the CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship. Member support is provided through the Business Services Network, a high-profile group of companies offering designers strategic opportunities. The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate, not-for-profit organized to mobilize the membership to raise funds for charitable causes. Through the Foundation, the CFDA created and manages Fashion Targets Breast Cancer; raises funds for HIV/AIDS organizations with 7th on Sale; addresses the issue of model health with The CFDA Health Initiative; and is a key participant in other programs such as the annual Fashion’s Night Out. For more information, please visit www.CFDA.com.


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