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  • May 31, 2019
    FASHION LAW IN INDIA Indian IP laws, specifically The Copyright Act,1957 and The Designs Act, 2000 gives two kinds of protection in the designer clothes . First is the protection for the drawings on any garment that may not necessarily include the shape/design of the garment itself . @dietsabya highlights this kind of copying by famous designer Nashish Soni onto Alexader Wangny’s slogan. The second category includes the design/shape of the garment itself, attributing to its unique fabric and tailoring. Designers are aggressively pushing to protect their design rights of this category. Rohit Bal in 2017 became the first designer in India to get copyright over his entire collection and the spree was followed by number of other designers thereafter. India is world’s largest and noisiest democracy. Indian textiles and apparels have always been one of the most sought after globally. Currently, the Indian textile industry is pegged at around US$ 120 billion, and is expected to reach US$ 230 billion by 2020.[3] It contributes approximately 2 percent to the country’s GDP and 14 per cent to overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The industry has also attracted FDI worth US$ 2.55 billion during April 2000 to June 2017. Just like Indian democracy the fashion industry in India is too diverse. Some have classified the sector as per their purchasing power and social reach namely- “Premier fashion”; “luxury segment”; “Affordable luxury” and “Mains stream brands”. It is thus more relevant today that such a huge sector is not trapped in complex web of laws functioning across domains . Currently it is majorly regulated by Intellectual Property laws – Copyright Act 1957, The Trademarks Act, 1999, Designs Act 2000, and Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, however none of the them is sufficient to deal with the sector in entirety. COPYRIGHT OR DESIGN ? Before the next collection for designers is launched, one question that disturbs the designers the most is how to prevent others from copying their original work which has been produced after rigorous intellectual labour. Whether to seek copyright protection of their original work or get the design registered to ensure its full scale commercial exploitation. This designer’s dilemma came to the courtroom in Ritika Private Limited v. Biba Apparels Private Limited.[5] In this case, the plaintiff, a boutique apparel designer brand, brought a suit against the defendants who have been a leading name in ethnic wear, for an injunction to prevent reproduction,printing, publishing, selling or offering the prints or garments for which the plaintiff claimed to be the first owner. The legal issue raised in this case was that once the copyrighted works of the plaintiff are applied for the making of any dress, and production of that dress exceeds 50 in number, whether the plaintiff losses ownership of her copyright works . The court made a distinction between designs eligible for copyright protection under the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Designs Act,2000. It held that copyright protects the original expression of the “artistic work” and offers limited protection to the commercial exploitation of the same, whereas the Designs Act is the chief tool to protect industrial application of the design, however the design need not to be always original. The court decided the dispute in favour of the defendants and the suit thus dismissed,relying on the bar under Section 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 1957. It was also held that had the facts been different from the ‘application of the designs’ to ‘direct lifting of the design’ the answer would have also differed. Here the ‘direct lifting’ would mean copy pasting the copyright work from its original form. Ultimately the web of IP laws proved to be counterproductive for Ritika Private Limited. The need is being recognised globally to sync the laws relating to fashion industry and develop exclusive programs to make fashion lawyers more aware about their duties and responsibilities and bring consumer sensitization about their choices . The infamous Rana Plaza incident which killed over 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh highlights the poor labour enforcement by the global fashion leaders such as ZARA and H&M. Thus there is a need for everyone to be aware about legal issues facing the fashion industry ranging from merchandising, distribution and franchising agreements to intellectual property and labour laws. FASHION LAW IN INDIA Noting the rights guaranteed in United States of America and in the European countries, India stands not far behind. The Fashion Foundation of India a newly constituted body consisting of the leading designers from India seeks protection of the Intellectual Property Rights against infringement and rampant copying. The intellectual property regime in India provides for the protection under the design act 2000, the copyright act 1957 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (registration and Prohibition act) 1999. Although there seems to be three different legislation that protect the regime of fashion apparel and designs. The artistic works in the sketches of the designs is protected under the Copyright Act 1957. The Design Act 2000, provides protection to the non functional aspect of n object having visual appearance which include the features of shape configuration, pattern, composition of line and colour pattern. The third schedule of the Design Rules 2001 provides an exhaustive list of products and articles in respect of which an application can be made to the controller. Such design right remains in force for a period of ten years extendable to the certain conditions for a total period of 15 years. CONCLUSION “Fashion goes only in one direction i.e. forward and I am a firm believer in thinking that way too”-Anna Wintour The recent changes in the fashion industry have drawn the attention from the intellectual point of view at the first sight. Time goes by and society is in constant development with growing needs, the different jurists and scholars find the fashion law as one of the relevant entities creating intellectual property rights as the sole protector of fashion designs. The fashion companies must be aware of the different levels of protection granted to different articles and fashion trends.
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