From Adidas to Zenga: A Historical and Comparative Analysis of International Intellectual Property Law in Fashion
American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal, Vol. 48, pp. 281-324 (2020).
48 AIPLA Q. J. 281 (2020)
Belmont University College of Law Research Paper No. 2021-10
44 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2021
Date Written: 2020
What are the most effective intellectual property models to protect a fashion brand? There is tremendous economic clout attached to a well-established trademark. Who among us does not immediately recognize the golden arches of McDonalds, the clever smile design imbedded in the Amazon logo, or the unique designs, fonts and colors attached to FedEx, Facebook, Google, or Apple? Some trademarks achieve global status through the sheer power of the corporate brand. Likewise, copyright protection is an essential means of protecting the writings of an author. This is true, not only in music, film and book publishing, but also in the world of fashion where a great deal of status is often associated with names such as Michael Kors, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and the like.
While most would agree with the stated purpose and need for intellectual property protection, these laws have jurisdictional borders that are often blurred for two significant reasons: first, trademarks and copyrights—at least those of successful works—are almost always international in their commercial use; and second, extraterritorial treatment of trademarks and copyrights often consists of legal nuances that are as diverse as the many nations in which the products are marketed. This Article will explore the history and differences between the way fashion is treated by trademark and copyright systems in the United States as compared with the treatment of fashion in various global territories. In conjunction with the exploration of the varied international laws and processes, the Article surveys the fashion industry and seeks to reveal the historical, business, cultural, and social reasons for their disparate treatment among the nations.
Keywords: intellectual property, fashion, trademark, copyright, comparative law, international law
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