Fashion industry attorneys are noting a rise in the number of designers who are using patents to try to protect their wares. US copyright and trademark laws often don’t apply to new, logo-free designs, designers are now applying for design patents that will protect their clothing and accessories from knock-offs.
Some brands, like Gucci, have already been getting design patents for decades. However, it is a new thing for many fashion companies to be doing so, according to intellectual property attorney Steve Nataupsky.
Unlike utility patents that protect how something is used, design patents protect how it looks. Attorney Harley Lewin explains that designers have to carefully assess if their items have originality and deserve to be patented.
Design patents last 14 years and are often used, as well, for designers who want to keep their looks a secret until they get to the runway.