The American fashion industry has been pushing hard over the last four years for copyright protection for its designs. An earlier bill in the House was deemed too broad; clothing makers argued that protection against knock-offs would only encourage frivolous lawsuits from people claiming they had the idea first. Today, after a year of negotiations, Senator Charles E. Schumer introduced a bill that seemed to satisfy the different sides of the fashion industry — and may provide some protection, too.
The bill, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, has the support of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), whose individual members represent the creative core of the industry, and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents more than 700 manufacturers and suppliers and by its estimate accounts for about 75 percent of the industry’s business. The AAFA had argued that the House bill was too broad and would expose its members to lawsuits.
Senator Schumer brought the two groups together. “In the first go-around there was nothing that gave our members protection,” Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the AAFA said, adding that there was “a vast difference” in the Schumer bill. “It provides the protection for unique design.”