Copyright – an Ally for Fashion in the Intellectual Property Rights System?

Make a Submission



fashion law
fast fashion
fashion design

How to Cite

Jankowska, M. (2020). Copyright – an Ally for Fashion in the Intellectual Property Rights System?. Contemporary Central & East European Law, (1 (133), 64–74.


In the Internet society, we are accustomed to the originators of creative works asserting strong protection of their output. Similarly, we witness extremely casual appropriation of works that is easier than ever to discover. Fashion products are an interesting case in this regard – through the relatively short history of the industry, protection of works has tended to be quite loose. Until recently, the consequences of copying in the fashion sector were not particularly serious, but the emergence of the connected society and the increased speed and scale of this copying threaten to cause more noticeable damage. The awareness that new threats call for a more serious approach to protection of creations requires examination of how and whether the familiar principles of copyright law can be applied to fashion designs and products, and to what extent. This paper outlines the background to such protections in the fashion industry, including examples of both strong and relaxed approaches by industry players. There is a brief presentation of case law that demonstrates how copyright principles can be applied to fashion, while also noting the role of society in applying the norms that determine the extent to which laws, once written, can actually be applied.


Ahnefeld JV, Rechtsprobleme der Mode- und Textilbranche (Kohlhammer 2006).

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, September 9, 1886, as revised at Paris on July 24, 1971 and amended in 1979 (1986) S Treaty Doc 99-27.

Breward C, The Culture of Fashion: A New History of Fashionable Dress (Manchester University Press, Palgrave Macmillan 1995).

Burbidge R, European Fashion Law: A Practical Guide from Start-up to Global Success (Edward Elgar 2019).

Derclaye E, ‘French Supreme Court Rules Fashion Shows Protected by Copyright: What about the UK? Roberts A.D. et al. v. Chanel et al., French Court of Cassation, 5.02.2008’ (2008) JIPLP 3(5).

Devore A, ‘The Battle Between the Courthouse and the Fashion House: Creating a Tailored Solution for Copyright Protection of Artistic Fashion Designs’ (2013) T Jefferson L Rev 35(2).

Dore G, Plagiarism as an Axiom of Legal Similarity: a Critical and Interdisciplinary Study of the Italian Author’s Right and the UK Copyright System on the Moral Right of Attribution (PhD thesis, Università Degli Studi Di Trento 2013/2014), <> accessed 10 Dec 2019.

Essen von A, ‘Frankreich’ in T. Hoeren (ed), Moderecht. Handbuch (CH Beck 2019).

Green NL, ‘Art and Industry: Language of Modernization in the Production of Fashion’ (1994) French Historical Studies 18(3).

Grzybczyk K, Ikony popkultury a prawo własności intelektualnej. Jak znani i sławni chronią swoje prawa [Icons of Pop Culture vs. Intellectual Property Law. How Reputable and Famous People Protect Their Rights] (Wolters Kluwer 2018).

Hawes E, Fashion is Spinach (Random House 1938).

Jankowska M, ‘Perfumy – czy nowy utwór w świetle najnowszego orzecznictwa w zakresie prawa autorskiego?’ [Perfume – a New Work of Authorship under the Current Copyright Law Jurisprudence?] (2007) MP 23.

Jankowska M, Autor i prawo do autorstwa [Author and Right of Authorship] (Lex a Wolters Kluwer Business 2011).

Jankowska M, Pawełczyk M, Warmuzińska A, Prawo designu i mody. Kreowanie produktu [Design and Fashion Law. Product Creation] (Ius Publicum 2020).

Judgment of BGH I ZR 158/81 [1983] (1984) GRUR, 453.

Judgment of BGH I ZR 65/53 [1954] (1995) GRUR, 445.

Judgment of Court of Appeals in Białystok III AUa 1115/15 [2016] Lex 2032390.

Judgment of Court of Appeals in Poznań I Aca 211/13 [2013] unreported.

Judgment of the Court of Appeals in Szczecin I Acz 1129/06 [2016] Lex 516576.

Judgment of the Leipzig Regional Court 5 O 5288/01 [2001] (2002) GRUR, 424.

Judgment of the PSC V CSK 202/13 [2014] Lex 1486990.

Judgment of the PSC V CSK 337/08 [2009].

Judgment of US Supreme Court 15-866 [2017] (2017) S Ct 137, 1002.

Kerlau Y, Sekrety mody [Secrets of Fashion] (Bukowy Las 2014).

Li X, ‘IP Protection of Fashion Design: To Be or Not to Be, that is the Question’ (2012) IP Theory 3(1).

Major JS, Steele V, ‘Fashion Industry’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica), <> accessed 6 Dec 2019.

Manfredi A, ‘Haute Copyright: Tailoring Copyright Protection to High-Profile Fashion Designs’ (2012) JICL 21.

Obwieszczenie Marszałka Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 6 czerwca 2019 r. w sprawie ogłoszenia jednolitego tekstu ustawy o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych [The Act on Copyright and Related Rights which has been adopted on 4 February 1994 [2019] JoL 1231.

Oleksyn-Wajda A, Rynek mody w Polsce. Wyzwania [Fashion Market in Poland. Challenges] (KPMG 2019).

Raciniewska A, ‘Prawo własności intelektualnej w modzie. Historyczny rozwój prawnej ochrony producentów mody’ [Intellectual Property Rights in Fashion. Historical Development of the Legal Protection for Fashion Producers] (2015) RPEiS 77(2).

Raustiala K, Sprigman CJ, ‘The Piracy Paradox Revisited’ (2009) Stan L Rev 61(5).

Raustiala K, Sprigman CJ, ‘The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design’ (2006) Va L Rev 92(8).

Scafidi S, Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law (Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick 2005).

Schultz MF, ‘Copynorms: Copyright and Social Norms’ in PK Yu (ed), Intellectual Property and Information Wealth: Issues and Practices in the Digital Age, vol. 1 Copyright and Related Rights (Praeger Publishers 2007).

Schulze G, ‘Werke der angewandten Kunst’ in H. Eichmann, A. Kur (eds), Designrecht. Praxishandbuch (Nomos 2016).

Somers S, ‘Fashion Revolution written evidence to the ‘Sustainability of the fashion industry’ inquiry, U.K. Environmental Audit Committee’ (Fashion Revolution) <> accessed 7 Dec 2019.

Stewart ML, ‘Copying and Copyrighting Haute Couture: Democratizing Fashion, 1900– 1930s’ (2005) French Historical Studies 28(1).

Taylor N, ‘From Insect-Covered Fashion Spreads to Whimsical Winged Monocles’ (Trendhunter, 17 Oct 2012) <> accessed 6 Dec 2019.

‘This is How Chanel Does Not Want You to Use its Name/Trademark’ (The Fashion Law 8 May 2017) <> accessed 10 Dec 2019.

The author transfers the copyright to the article to the Publisher, which publishes the scientific journal in the Open Access model (licensed under Creative Commons CC 4.0_BY).