Deborah E. Greaves
Partner | USView profile
Even if a fashion company is being diligent, it can be liable for infringing the copyright of a fabric that a supplier, especially one abroad, falsely claimed it created or licensed it.
In a World IP Review article on the topic from June 2021, Deborah shared that, in the United States, there is a pressing issue with textile design copyrights. For manufacturers that buy their fabrics in China or outside of the U.S., there is no concrete way of determining whether a design is registered and who owns the registration because there is no effective way to search for registrations of textile designs. Although manufacturers ask for indemnification from fabric brokers and/or mills, these indemnifications are virtually unenforceable, so it is a big risk for companies to buy anything except for US designed textile prints where the seller can prove they own a registration for the design. This limitation presents serious financial and logistical issues for an industry that is under severe pricing pressure from retailers and consumers.