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Intellectual Property For Fashion Designers


Delivering a seminar on Intellectual Property, Deborah Niven, specialist IP/IT lawyer from Gunnercooke, supplied a wealth of knowledge to our fashion apprentices.  Covering topics including innovation, design, copyright and trade marks, she helped the students to understand the important intellectual rights within the fashion industry that will be beneficial to them throughout their career.iplawyer

Splitting the seminar into three sections Deborah ensured students were able to identify the types of intellectual property including copyright, unregistered designs and design rights, patents and trade marks, explaining the categories of work that are protected each law, something that is crucial for any budding designer, writer or artist to understand. 

“Unregistered design rights give a right to prevent copying for 10 years from the first marketing of articles made to design and 15 years from the creation of the relevant design document.”

Leading on to detail what a design must entail in order to be protected, Deborah explained “to be protected by design right a design must comprise the shape or configuration of an article, be original, be recorded in a design document and be created by a qualifying person.”  Deborah detailed how a registered design could be filed with the Intellectual property office in order to gain future protection of the appearance of an article.

Discussing trade marks, the group were informed of “a registered trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods from those of others, a sign, or registered works.”

In the second part of the seminar Deborah informed the apprentices how to become protected highlighting that “copyright and design right is free and automatic” and also communicated how infringement is identified “a person infringes copyright if he copies the work, issues copies to the public, performs/shows, broadcasts or adapts the original work.”  Explaining how patents work, Deborah went on to say “a patent gives the owner a national monopoly right to exploit an invention for 20 years… a patent gives you the ability to take legal action to try and stop others from manufacturing, selling and importing your invention without your permission.”

In the last part of the seminar, commercialisation was covered.  “Commercialisation is very profitable, but there are many practical considerations including raising finance, manufacturing, marketing, selling and distribution… significant resources will be needed to achieve full potential.”  Deborah discussed the options for designers to manufacture, sub-contract manufacture, sell or licence their IP rights in order to receive a revenue.

Feedback from the group of students was highly positive;

“I have learnt all about IP and the different categories, I found today highly informative.” – Shannon

“I have learnt in-depth information into all types of intellectual property.” – Alicia

“This seminar has taught me that IP is a lot broader – not what I first expected.  This in-depth seminar broke down IP, copyright and trade marking.  It was extremely helpful towards apprenticeship work.” – Robia

“I already had a brief understanding but this has made it much clearer and allowed me to be able to differentiate between different types of IP and which scenarios they might be used in.  I found this really interesting and gained knowledge from someone experience in the sector.” – Emily

“Information was very clear and precise and Deborah explained everything well.  It was great information to know.” – Jade

“I have learnt the difference between copyrights, design rights, patents and trademarks.  I never fully knew the difference between them but I do now.” – Anna


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