The Faculty Blog (U. Chicago Law School) runs a group blog session on my colleague Kal Raustiala's and Chris Sprigman's paper The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design. Lots of interesting posts from top scholars; much worth reading if you're interested in intellectual property.
Here's Prof. Sprigman's summary of the paper:
The Piracy Paradox is about the challenge that the fashion industry presents to the orthodox theories of IP. Advocates for strong IP rights argue that absent such rights copyists will free-ride on the efforts of creators and stifle innovation. Yet fashion presents a significant empirical anomaly: the industry produces a huge variety of creative goods without strong IP protection in one of its biggest markets (the United States), and without apparent utilization of nominally strong IP rights in another large market (the countries of the European Union). Copying and derivative re-working are rampant in both the U.S. and E.U., as the orthodox account would predict. Yet innovation and investment remain vibrant.
Why, when other major content industries have obtained increasingly powerful IP protections for their products, does fashion design remain mostly unprotected --and economically successful? The fashion industry is a puzzle for orthodox IP theory.
Our paper explores this puzzle.