Abstract: A Nice Pair? Fashion and Piracy from a Legal and Business History Perspective

Marianne Dahlén


Fashion is a huge and flourishing global business, in spite of a number of particular difficulties such as keen competition and a "low IP-equilibrium." Also copying of fashion designs is a huge business. The fashion industry seems to be a historical exception in the IP-context. Fashion is good for trade it has been said—but can piracy be good for fashion? Fashion and intellectual property are complex matters: Fashion is at the crossroads of the classical fields of intellectual property rights: design, trademarks, patent, and copyright. There are global, regional, and national systems and IP-institutions, including self-regulatory organs. Consequently, there are overlaps and conflicts. The IP system has its roots in the late nineteenth century (the Paris and Berne Conventions, 1883 and 1886) and there is a growing critique that it has a structure with separate IP-rights that is no longer relevant and that it is over-protective. In this paper I will present a research project investigating the development of design rights and alternative business strategies from a combined legal historical and business history perspective, using legal material as well as material from a number of Swedish and Italian fashion companies.