News & Events

IP & the Fashion Industry

4 January 2016 | Posted in News

I love shopping for clothes and it seems I’m not the only one; the fashion industry in the UK generates more than £21billion in revenue each year. It has huge economic and social importance generating billions of pounds and creating millions of jobs, rivalling in importance with creative industries such as literature, music and movies. In addition to its substantial contributions to the U.K. economy, fashion is also considered an art form which is loved by many people worldwide. 
On a daily basis, I see celebs flaunting their flawless designer dresses on the red carpet and in glossy fashion magazines. I am always looking for the latest affordable item of clothing and thankfully many of the outfits being worn by those celebrities soon find their way to the high street.
The market is jam-packed with well-known fashion designers who are all exploiting their creative ideas and innovations: the likes of Burberry, Tom Ford & Cath Kidston, all renowned for their unique designs and distinctive patterns. Their most valuable assets lie in their trade marks and unique designs and it is crucial that these are protected.
A registered design, which protects the look of a product, can become a valuable business asset that can be bought, sold or licensed like any other property. The more successful a design, the more valuable it can become to the owner and this makes registration all the more worthwhile. A registered design includes the appearance, physical shape, configuration and decoration. They have a set life of 25 years as long as they are renewed every 5 years which is certainly adequate for the commercial life of most fashion designs.
The fashion house Burberry manufactures clothing, fragrances, and other accessories. Their well-known tartan-check is one of the most recognized registered trade marks in the world and is also one of the most copied. Burberry has registered its famous checks both as a design and a trade mark.
Trade marks play a vital role for fashion designers and are seen as a valuable marketing tool. Customers associate a brand label with a specific style, image or quality and owning a trade mark to protect the brand can become a vital means of building customer loyalty, maintaining goodwill and improving your success! By registering the Burberry check as a trade mark, the identity can be protected indefinitely as long as you renew every 10 years. 
Patents may not spring to mind when thinking about IP within the fashion industry, yet technical innovation can equally put a fashion business ahead of the competition. In 1879 Gabardine, a tightly woven fabric used to make garments was invented by Thomas Burberry, founder of the Burberry fashion house, he then went on to obtain a patent for his invention in 1888. It was initially invented for British Army and was obtained for private purchase by officers and Warrant Officers and is still used today in the production of most trench coats and outerwear. Thomas Burberry built mills first in Basingstoke and later in Farnworth, Lancashire, and the first Burberry store then opened in the Haymarket in 1904. 
There is no disputing that things have changed since Thomas Burberry first designed clothes. But still after 257 years, the Burberry fashion house is still very much at the forefront of the UKs fashion industry. It is undeniable that the classic trench coat and tartan check have become somewhat iconic in Great Britain - evidence that protecting your intellectual property is essential for building both a successful reputation and a global brand that has been recognised worldwide for hundreds of years. 

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