Prior blog entries discussed copyright protection for fashion and luxury goods product designs (www.springutlaw.com/blog/2019/6/3/must-know-basics-of-copyright-law-for-the-fashion-and-luxury-goods-industry).
U.S. law has another, albeit a less well-known way, to protect designs: design patents.
Once thought of as the stepchild of intellectual property, design patents have come into their own, becoming popular among both fashion and other industries.
In the well-known Apple v. Samsung lawsuit, Apple was awarded half-a-billion dollars in damages for infringement of three design patents, causing many to take a second look at this option.
Design patents have both advantages and disadvantages over copyright protection.
Where appropriate, they can be very powerful tools to protect a design. Understanding the fundamentals of design patent law, and the relative advantages and disadvantages over copyright protection, strengthens the ability of fashion and luxury goods companies to protect their designs.