Clothing Designers: Protect Your Intellectual Property

Clothing design is a functional and profitable business venture for any talented designer, but the competition is fierce. The right design can stand out and fly off the shelves, turning your hard work into serious cash. Still, clothing designers have unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to using intellectual property to protect their original works. On one single t-shirt, there might be multiple IP protections in place to ensure the creators are able to benefit from their creativity. We will go over some important considerations clothing designers must address to protect their designs. 

Trademark or Copyright for Independent Clothing Designers?

Clothing designers should understand that it is likely that you will need a combination of trademarks and copyrights to protect your designs. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is a recognizable “word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”

So, essentially, if you want people to know that you made those shirts everyone is starting to recognize on the subway, you need a logo, slogan, or other material that can be trademarked so people know you’re the creative force behind it. There is no requirement for you to formally register your trademarks with the USPTO or your state. The protection you get from registering your trademark, though, is significantly enhanced; therefore, your commercial interests and prospects are enhanced. 

For each individual shirt design, though, you should pursue copyright protection. Again, copyrights are not required to be registered. In fact, as soon as you create “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” copyright is created. However, it is still wise for your business to register your works of art with the USPTO. Before pursuing registration, you need to make sure the material meets the “creativity and originality” standard, which is a relatively low bar to clear. After you have your copyright registered, you can go after alleged infringers to protect your designs. 

Use Intellectual Property Rights to Strengthen Your Brand

To put it rather bluntly, small businesses need to utilize intellectual property protections more than any other company. It might be easy to spot when a large company is praying on your hard work for their own profit, but you’re going to need an experienced intellectual property attorney by your side to fight back.

With the internet and social media, it is extremely easy for clothing designs to be reproduced before you can even get your copyright and/or trademark applications sent in. Acting swiftly and decisively is the best way to protect your livelihood as a clothing designer, and the first move is to get with an experienced attorney. The team at McDermott IP Law will thoroughly evaluate your situation and determine the optimal path forward to protect your intellectual property. Contact our team and make sure your innovation is protected to the fullest extent.

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McDermott IP Law

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