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Top tips on protecting your brand in the fashion industry

Image credit: ‘Knuckle’ Jewellery design by Sedef Isim, BA Fashion Jewellery
Written by
Published date
15 May 2015

On Thursday night JWSS hosted a talk at LCF discussing intellectual property (IP) and the ways that emerging fashion brands can hope to protect themselves from copyright infringement. With huge brands including the likes of Guess, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and Topshop having been embroiled in court cases for various intellectual property infringement claims, this is clearly something that creative professionals, especially in the fashion industry, should be taking seriously.

Image credit: 'Knuckle' Jewellery design by Sedef Isim, BA Fashion Jewellery

Image credit: ‘Knuckle’ Jewellery design by Sedef Isim, BA Fashion Jewellery

Here are our top takeaways for protecting your brand…

1. Why do you need to protect your work?

As Francesca Shepherd, solicitor at JWSS says, “It’s all about brand value.” The more your brand can be potentially ripped off, the less valuable your brand is. And looking to the future, it may be impossible to sell your brand on if your IP isn’t watertight.

2. Know what to protect

Your designs, branding, logos, photography, taglines and branded content all need protecting to ensure that it can’t be ripped off by someone else.

3. Know how to protect yourself

There are many ways to protect your brand, including Copyright, evidence documents, watermarks, Unregistered Community Design Rights, Confidentiality agreements, Unregistered trademarks, Registered Rights and more. Learn which is best for you and your brand and put them in to practice.

4. Know who the owner is

A perfect anecdote told by Philif Luff, Solicitor at JWSS, is the one about the Monkey Selfie. A monkey famously stole a photographer’s camera and took a selfie (true story), but who owns that photo, the monkey or the man? Surprisingly, under English law, the monkey now owns that image.

It is crucial to make sure that you have contracts in place to make sure you own the designs, logos, web content and photos etc. of your brand. Traditionally an employee’s work is the rights of the employer, however a self-employed creator owns the rights to their own work. A big must here is to do your research as there can be a number of variables which may affect who the owner is.

5. Why is the ownership important?

  • Future plans – Any potential investors are going to want to make sure that your IP can be enforced, and investors are extremely important if you are looking to grow your business.
  • Protecting your rights – You have to own your own rights to protect your brand. Make sure you have complete control of every aspect of your business.

6. Contracts, contracts, contracts

A sure fire way to stay protected? Put everything in writing!

Any students keen to understand more about intellectual property (IP) please register with Own It, a free service offered by UAL’s Student Enterprise and Employability (SEE) team. By registering students and recent graduates have the opportunity to meeting with lawyers and receive one on one IP advice.