Observing creativity in fashion: implications for copyright

William Van Caenegem, Violet Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We are interested in the intersection between IP and fashion design. We have addressed theoretical and comparative issues in this sphere in previous publications concerning copyright, designs, trade marks and unfair competition law.1

The role of IP in fashion has been controversial at the most general conceptual and policy level. Sprigman and Raustiala have posited that IP rights (IPRs) have no useful role to play in encouraging creativity in fashion as in the USA the creative churn is already very intense in the near absence of IPRs.2 Their thesis has been countered by others, but there is no telling empirical evidence to support definitive conclusions either way.3

The relevance of the broader conundrum is not confined to the fashion industry: fashion can be seen as a proxy for universal questions about cause and effect and the real need for IPRs, given that they constitute a quasi-monopolistic brake on normal competitive and imitative practices. Do they perhaps hinder competition, including imitation, more than they help dynamic competition? Do they encourage quantity of innovation at the expense of quality? Does tweaking of the scope of rights make any real difference in the light of background systemic or sectorial factors?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1414
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Intellectual Property & Law Practice
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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