Copyright of Clothing Designs

An Overview of Clothing Design Protection Under Copyright

Online Legal India LogoBy Online Legal India Published On 28 Nov 2022 Category Copyright

Copyright protects artists' intellectual property, which implies that your design cannot be copied or recreated without your consent. On the other hand, clothing is referred to as a "useful object." This implies you can't have the copyright of clothing designs or even the garments, which is why it's difficult to copyright. Nevertheless, certain garment design features, such as logos or other embellishments, can be registered as a copyright. In this post, we will learn the process to copyright literary work on many components of garment designs.


You must register your work with the Registrar of Copyrights. Copyright is a legal privilege granted to the producers of creative works in the fields of literature, theatre, music, and art, among others. Registered copyright protects your work legally and prevents unauthorised use. There were roughly 40000 copyright disputes & discrepancy examinations between 2017 and 2018. To avoid this, you must first grasp the prerequisites for the copyright of clothing design registration as well as the process. We will learn about the many categories of work for which you may receive a copyright, who is eligible to obtain a copyright for a piece of work, what papers you must have when attempting to obtain a copyright and the method involved in the copyright registration process.

Kinds of Work Registered under Copyright

In India, copyright can be claimed for original works that fit under the following categories:

  • Musical compositions,
  • Books and manuscripts are examples of literary works.
  • Films about cinematography,
  • Designs for clothing,
  • Paintings and other artistic works
  • Performances,
  • Software & other computer programmes, compilations, and so forth.

It should be noted, however, that copyright does not safeguard titles, names, ideas, concepts, slogans, techniques, or short phrases.

Different Steps Involved in Copyrighting

  • Check to determine if the logo or decoration is protected by copyright. A logo or decoration is only suitable if you created it and requires a considerable amount of work and creative thought. Additionally, be certain that the logo or decoration is original and has not been replicated by anybody else.
  • Fill out the copyright form on the website of the US Copyright Office. You must submit your contact details as well as details about the logo you wish to copyright. It is far cheaper to apply online than via mail.
  • Submit the sitting charge using your preferred payment option.
  • Send 2 hard copies of the logo to the US Copyright Office at the address specified on the form. Even if you file online, this is essential.

How Can We Increase the Levels of Protection in Our Design?

There are techniques for creating protectable features that may be used on garments, shoes, and bags. One of the most typical is embroidering the brand's emblem on garments, luggage, and shoes. Making prints or artwork is another alternative. However, in order to be protected by copyright of clothing design legislation, prints and artwork must be unique and have an artist's distinct style.

For example, making a sunflower print from a Google picture of a sunflower is not enough to be deemed unique artwork. The sunflower design or sketch must have distinct traits that set the artist apart from others.

Designers can also incorporate elements into their items that have an aesthetic function. A characteristic that may be specified independently of the utilitarian function of the product qualifies for copyright protection. As an example, consider a sculptural design on a bag handle. It may be used as both a decorative material and as jewellery.

Need of Copyright

  • A public record is created when a copyright is registered. It informs the world that your work is copyrighted and allows someone who wants to licence your work to discover you.
  • It allows you to sue and take legal action against someone who violates your copyright, such as selling copies of the work without your permission.
  • It offers you economic benefits by allowing you to utilise your work in a variety of ways, such as creating copies, performing in public, transmitting your work, and so on, and receiving suitable compensation for it. As a result, it serves as a reward for your innovation.
  • It enables you to sell or transfer the rights to your work.
  • It enables you to obtain legal proof of your ownership. So, if someone forbids you from utilising your work, you can use your copyright to demonstrate that it is your work and that you have the right to use it.
  • It enables you to alter the format of your work. It enables you, for example, to create a sequel, rewrite, or update the work.

Essential Documents Required for Copyright Registration

  • If the work is published, three copies are required;
  • Two copies of the manuscript are required if the work is not published.
  • If the application is filed by an attorney, the attorney and the parties must sign a specific power of attorney or vakalatnama.
  • Work authorization if the applicant does not perform the work;
  • Information about the work's title and language;
  • Information about the applicant's name, residence, and nationality;
  • In addition, the applicant must supply his phone number & email ID.
  • If the applicant is not the original author, a document giving the author's name, address, and nationality, as well as the date of death if the author is deceased;
  • A no-objection certificate from the author is necessary if the applicant is not the author. In this instance, the author's permission may also be requested.
  • If a person's photograph appears in work, a no-objection certificate from that individual is necessary.
  • A no-objection certificate from the publisher is necessary if the publisher is not the applicant.
  • If the work has been published, the year and location of the first publication are also needed.
  • Information on the year and country of publication of the following publications;
  • The source and object code must also be included if the copyright is for software.
  • Clothing Design Protection with Copyright
  • There are different messages regarding whether fashion designs are protected by copyright. Some experts will say 'no,' while others would say 'yes,' and both are true, but it all depends on the circumstances.

It all depends on your definition of "fashion designs." A fashion design can refer to a number of different things. It might be a reference to sketching. It might be a characteristic colour, fabric, or other design feature. Let's take a look at the many components of fashion and the nature of its copyright.


Colours are not protected by the Copyright of clothing designs or the garment sector. Copyright is not the way to go if you want to preserve a signature colour or a distinctive colour scheme in your fashion design. This is not to say that you have no choice in protecting your intellectual property. Trademark protection is occasionally possible in certain situations.

Creating graphics

Copyright law protects designs on the surface of garments in the same way it safeguards designs on canvas or paper. The United States Supreme Court held in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands that "two-dimensional patterns appearing on the surface of clothes," including "combinations, positionings, and arrangements" of forms, colours, lines, and so on, are protected by copyright.

Textile creation

Copyright can be utilised to protect "designs imprinted in or on cloth," particularly if the design incorporates a significant degree of creative expression.


Original drawings of your designs are protected by copyright law if you make them. That means, without your permission, no one may reproduce, distribute, publicly display, or otherwise utilise your sketch. In contrast, copyright protects ideas rather than the original form of work. As a consequence, because the protection is based on the drawing component of the design rather than the underlying idea, it does not prohibit others from developing outfits identical to your drawings.


It is well known that Copyright does not protect how design components are cut and assembled. The United States Supreme Court held in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands that copyright affords "no right to restrict any individual from making garments of similar shape, cut, and measurements." This does not, however, stop you from considering alternative possibilities. A design patent may protect your invention.


In this post, we went over the copyright structure and method for clothing/fashion apparel in depth. We have also highlighted how certain garment or fashion design components can be protected under copyright law, and if they cannot be protected, what alternatives are available in such circumstances. Copyright law does not protect facts or goods that serve a beneficial function. Clothing performs a useful purpose. The basic function of clothing is to protect our bodies.  

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Anjali Malhotra


Anjali Malhotra


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