The Reasons Fashion is Hard to Trademark

Woman in hat and red shirt with handbag sunglassesExpensive designers that sell their clothing for thousands of dollars for one item are not very affordable to the masses, so how do people that cannot afford those prices wear clothing that looks like a million bucks? Or how does the average consumer dress just like their favorite celebrity when they cannot afford those hefty price tags? It is easy with knockoff fashion wear that you can find in many ordinary stores. Luckily, the clothing industry is one area where trademarks are not easy to come by, which means less expensive designers can get away with making a “similar” style and get away with it without being accused of copying, stealing, or infringing any trademarks that the fashion designers have obtained.

Clothing is a Necessity

The courts do not often honor trademark issues on necessary items and we could all pretty much agree that clothing is an essential. There are very few ways to minimize the copying that goes on in the fashion world because all clothes have to have the same “style” in order for the clothing to be worn and even patterns are hard to distinguish from one another. Polka dots, stripes, and plaids are not easily made unique, so one brand many look extremely similar to another, but there is nothing the courts will do about it.

Copying without Copying

The trick is to “copy” a style without copying it stitch for stitch. Maybe there is a certain style dress you like and would like to copy and try to sell yourself. You can use a similar style, meaning the way that it drapes the body and possibly its length, but you should alter things like the placing of the accessories, the pattern used, or even the material of the dress. Fashion that is copied stitch for stitch can be accused of infringement issues and suffer the consequences which could range from financial payments to being required to take down the entire line.

The good news for the average consumer is that chances are, you can find those designer duds that you drool over in a much less expensive brand. You may have to sacrifice the specific pattern or another small detail, but there are likely many “copycats” out there that are not going to be accused of infringing on another company’s rights because those rights are hard to prove when it comes to something like fashion.

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