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Fashion Labels & Their Protection Under The Intellectual Properties Laws on India

Fashion is entirely based on the intellect of an individual. With the advent of culture, economy and time the Indian Fashion industry has boomed across the nations while fashion isn’t just confined to clothes yet in addition it extends largely to luxurious goods and products, however, the growth of the fashion businesses is always under the threat as the creativity and designs are more prone to be easily copied.

Intellectual Properties and the fashion industry are corresponding to each other. The creativity in the designs which are being acknowledged as fashion are the intellectual creations of an individual and the laws seeks to protect those creations by giving rights to those creators including the exclusive right to use such creations and to earn from such creations by way of registration of brands, designs, logos, photographs and sketches under the Copyright Act of 1957, the Designs Act of 2000 and the Trade Marks Act of 1999 respectively.

The Copyright Act of 1957 is the instrument that is used for the protection of the artistic work of the designer which ensures protection for literary and artistic work. Section 2(c) of the Act defines artistic work, which was declared by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of Rajesh Masrani v Tahiliani Designs Pvt. Ltd (2008) to include the drawings made in furtherance of design and the patterns printed or embroidered on the clothes.

Trademark is that part of IP which guarantees an identity fs a logo, word or any mark so as to show as a product and distinguish the same from its rivals. The use of trademark law, under the Trade Marks Act, 1999, ranges from not only the protection of logos and brand names but also other distinct features of a product. Trademarks can likewise be either engraved inside the product or subtly showed on some parts, for example on buttons etc. Trademark law has led to the introduction of the concept of “trade dress” i.e. for example the complete picture of the item including it’s size, shape, colour or colour combinations, texture, or designs. In the landmark case of Christian Louboutin vs. Pawan Kumar and Ors [CS(COMM) 714/2016], the plaintiff, Christian Louboutin, moved the Court looking for a permanent injunction and compensation claims from the two stores who were selling counterfeit products of Red Sole Shoes. The court in its judgment held the defendants liable to pay a total sum of Rs. 10.72 Lakhs, while they were injuncted permanently from selling the counterfeited product again. The Judge in its judgment proclaimed Christian Louboutin as a well-known mark, a much looked for after tag for any brand proprietor. The infringement of Louboutin’s mark and successful prosecution of the defendant shoe store owners are the best instances of how a designer or a brand owner needs to protect their trademark.

The Designs Act of 2000 protects the designs registered under Section 2 of the Act from infringement and counterfeiting. The protection under this Act is given to just those designs that comply with the conditions and comes under the ambit of “design” defined under Section 2 of the Design Act. Moreover, the protection granted is safeguarding particular aspects, for example, the pattern, shape, colour, and so forth the protection granted is for a time period of 10 years for which further extension of five years is allowed.

The fashion industry has significantly evolved in recent time, backed by the liberalization further reinforced by successful application of and enforcement of the IP laws, however, there is still a lot to be achieved. The designers are themselves unaware about the IP laws and their protection which can safeguard their creation and innovation from illegal and unlawful infringements including passing-off.


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