How to Protect Yourself from Infringing Another’s Copyright

In our previous post, “Copyright Law and the Fashion Industry,” we covered the basics of copyright and copyright in fabric prints. In this post we’re going to address the steps you should take to limit your risks of infringing another’s copyrighted work. It may seem like common sense, but it is important information none the less.

Ways to Ensure You Don’t Violate Copyright

Fabric prints can have significant legal and reputational consequences for artists, fashion designers, manufacturers, and retailers. As a designer, it can be very difficult to know where a design originated. It is important to minimize the risk you face in using fabric prints of others as inspiration.

To best protect against adverse legal, financial, and reputational consequences

  1. Be original
  2. Make your own designs and don’t copy
  3. Document your inspirations
  4. Do your research

Spend some time trying to determine whether the print is protected by some form of intellectual property. For instance, you can examine the fabric itself to determine whether it includes a trademark, signature, or artist initials in the actual print. Additionally, you can search the Copyright Office to determine whether a registration is on file or search online to learn where a design originated.

Are you interested in learning more about copyright?

On April 25th, the Seattle Fashion Incubator and Lee & Hayes will be hosting a workshop to discuss copyright, fabric patterns, and incorporating another designer’s fabrics into your own designs.  Sign up here so we know you’re in!

Eventbrite - How to does Copyright Law Affect Fashion Designers

Elizabeth "Libby" Zinke is a Patent Attorney with Lee & Hayes PLLCFashion law is an ever emerging area of law that deals with the business problems of the fashion industry.  The area of fashion law encompasses a breadth of legal disciplines including intellectual property, business, employment, regulatory, immigration, and zoning.  Libby Zinke is an attorney at Lee & Hayes, PLLC.  Her practice focuses primarily on intellectual property procurement and enforcement.  Lee & Hayes is a full service law firm with nationally recognized corporate and litigation attorneys who are well versed in addressing other legal issues faced by fashion designers.

This blog post is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. By reading this blog post, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the blog author. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Author: Libby Zinke

Libby Zinke is an attorney at Lee & Hayes, PLLC. Her practice focuses primarily on intellectual property procurement and enforcement. Lee & Hayes is a full service law firm with nationally recognized corporate and litigation attorneys who are well versed in addressing other legal issues faced by fashion designers.

Share This Post On