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A Comparative Approach to the Protection of Fashion Innovations

  • Author(s): Wulf, Alexander
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper determines the relevance of industrial property rights to the development of innovations in the fashion industry. It examines how the level of innovation can remain high despite a free exchange of intellectual property – fashion designs – within the industry:

The importance of innovation for a fashion business in the industry is determined by the choice of it’s competitive strategy. That is, either to be an innovator who creates fashion innovations or to be an imitator who adopts them once they have proven their ability to prevail in the market. The success of innovators depends largely on their ability to react to fashion trends, reinforced by the social role of fashion products and to the extent of their potential to confer status on the owner. Thus the duration of a temporary monopoly gained by an innovation is limited not only by the market entrance of imitators – a period of time that can be prolonged by making use of industrial property rights protection – but also by the constant changes in fashion, a process barely affected by the utilization of intellectual property rights protection. A monopoly maintained by using intellectual property rights might very well not extend the product life cycle beyond the limits posed by the shifting changes of fashion; moreover, an extended life cycle maintained in these circumstances could seriously limit the innovators agility in satisfying consumer demand in line with fashion trends and provoke an inappropriate allocation of resources to developing unfashionable innovations, resulting in a much greater risk of product failure.

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