“Fashion” brings to mind fashion shows with designer clothes but also anything else that is “current” and “in”, a particular “style” – everything from clothing to footwear, home decoration and furniture, accessories such as belts, bags, scarves, but also consumables such as perfumes and beverages. Fashion is with us everywhere, and it attracts not only buyers and users, but also illegitimate imitators and copyists.

While copying and imitation are cornerstones of competitive markets intellectual property rights of creators are similarly part of the basic rights. Inventions are protected by patents or utility models, distinctive signs by trademark law, and creations of the fashion industries receive protection under copyright law or design law. Design law received prominent recognition in the European Union when not only national design laws of the still 28 Member States were harmonized but, in addition, a single unitary design right was created in the early 2000s.

Design protection is the ideal intellectual property right for creations of the fashion industries. Protection through registration, valid up to 25 years, is easy to obtain and inexpensive. In addition, EU law provides for an exclusive design right for a period of three years even without registration for any design first used in the EU. This particular feature of European design law, not existing elsewhere in the world, was specifically created with originators in small and medium-sized enterprises as well as individual designers and sectors of industry in mind which produce large numbers of possibly short-lived designs for which the protection through a registered design is not really needed.

Many creations of the fashion industries would also qualify for copyright protection, which is available for works with a creative character. Copyright protection is available everywhere in the European Union from the date of creation, under the laws of each of the EU Member States.

In addition to design law and copyright law, fashion products may also be protected against misappropriation under unfair competition laws. Germany has a particularly developed case-law on preventing imitators from exploiting the commercial value of successful products, including such fashion items as shoes and handbags.

BARDEHLE PAGENBERG has repeatedly been successful in representing clients in disputes about fashion rights – either defending against accusations or helping to enforce rights under design or copyright or unfair competition law. For instance, the firm was victorious in representing a famous global fashion brand to prevail over a Community design infringement accusation before the German Federal Supreme Court. BARDEHLE PAGENBERG was also successful in helping a German art professor and painter to prevail over a local fashion label in a copyright dispute (motifs from some of the artist’s paintings were used on skirts and dresses manufactured and distributed without his consent).

Partnerschaft mbB

Patentanwälte Rechtsanwälte

Prinzregentenplatz 7
81675 Munich

Phone: +49 89 928 05-0
Fax: +49 89 928 05-444
Email: info(at) 

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Interested in our latest news on Fashion? Here we go.

Firm News on
Trademarks, Copyright, Fashion
BARDEHLE PAGENBERG routs Birkenstock in two preliminary injunction proceedings concerning copyrights for sandals

In each of two preliminary injunction proceedings, Birkenstock attacked four specific health sandal…

Firm News on
Designs, Sports, Fashion
BARDEHLE PAGENBERG successfully defends adidas in preliminary injunction proceedings regarding an attack by Puma against the latest version of the iconic “Stan Smith” sneakers

After an oral hearing of more than three hours before the Regional Court of Braunschweig on June 19,…

Firm News on
Patent Litigation, Oppositions and Nullity, Sports, Fashion
BARDEHLE PAGENBERG successful for adidas in nullity appeal proceedings against a patent which Nike had asserted against the “adizero primeknit”-shoes

On January 31, 2017, the German Federal Court of Justice (FCJ) rendered a decision revoking, in its…

Firm News on
Unfair Competition Law, Electrical Engineering, Fashion
Unfair competition: Zound Industries, represented by BARDEHLE PAGENBERG, prevails over Lidl twice

Press release of June 29, 2015

The Swedish headphone manufacturer Zound Industries International…

Firm News on
Copyright, Fashion
German art professor and painter Klaus Fußmann prevails with BARDEHLE PAGENBERG over Munich fashion label in copyright dispute

Press release of March 31, 2015

Early in 2014, German art professor and painter Klaus Fußmann had…

Firm News on
Designs, Fashion
Complex litigation between watch makers: BARDEHLE PAGENBERG successful for Neuhaus Inventing Timepieces

Press release of February 6, 2015

More than 2 ½ years after a complex dispute over the infringement…

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