Proposed Legislation: Senate Bill 1957, Design Piracy Prohibition Act

The One Sentence Summary: The proposed Design Piracy Prohibition Act would provide copyright protection to fashion designs, whereas existing law only protects fashion labels from being copied by counterfeit merchandisers.

Summary of Legislation:

  • Senate Bill 1957 would provide copyright protection to a “fashion design,” which is defined as “the appearance as a whole of an article of apparel, including its ornamentation.”
  • The “apparel” entitled to fashion design protection includes clothing (undergarments, outerwear, gloves, footwear, and headgear), handbags, purses, tote bags, belts, and eyeglass frames.
  • The period of copyright protection provided would be three years for fashion designs.
  • Fashion designs not subject to protection under Senate Bill 1957 include those embodied in a useful article that was made public by the designer or owner more than three months before applying for copyright registration.
  • Senate Bill 1957 would also make fully applicable to fashion designs the doctrines of secondary infringement and secondary liability.
  • This proposed legislation has sparked considerable debate within the fashion industry. Opponents of the bill, such as the California Fashion Association, contend that it would stifle creativity in the fashion industry and result in more litigation because of difficulties identifying what constitutes a violation of the act. Supporters of the bill, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America, argue that it would protect against l0w-end knock-offs profiting from fashion designers’ creativity.