October 2011 Archives

O, Ralph.

When the New York Times' Eric Wilson listened to Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren chat for charity, one exchange stood out: 

"How do you keep reinventing?"

"You copy," he said. "Forty-five years of copying, that's why I'm here."

Of course, everyone knows that the signature looks of the Ralph Lauren family of brands are inspired by classic Americana -- with an occasional detour around the globe -- but coming from the guy who was on the losing end of the best-known design piracy case of the late 20th century, the admission strikes a chord. 

Honestly, honesty?  Now, when the U.S. may be on the brink of finally passing a law that, while it wouldn't come anywhere near the level of the French protection that wrangled Ralph, would have a similar effect in some cases?   

Was it a passive protest or conscience-clearing comment?  You decide.  (And in the meantime, Ralph's crack team of attorneys, a truly talented collection, will continue to be hard at work protecting his marvelously strong marks.)

Counterfeit Chic has two reasons to cheer for the U.S.Chamber this fall:  an informative visit to the Fashion Law Institute from a group of Chinese Supreme People's Court judges and a newly issued letter in support of the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA), currently H.R. 2511. 

The pithiest part of the letter may be the statistics, which refer to "14,000 companies in the fashion and apparel industry in the U.S., directly employing approximately 4 million Americans and indirectly employing countless others," though I confess a personal partiality to my punny "narrowly tailored" thumbprint.  (Spotting the meme is always amusing, though it's a pity it can't be in the actual legislation.)  Of course, as long as we're aggregating numbers, let's not forget the 312 million Americans who regularly wear clothes, in some fashion.  Still think it's frivolous?

And the most memorable quote from the China-U.S. roundtable may be from the lovely Senior Judge Xia Junli, who concluded a discussion of comparative fashion design protection by saying, "I hope your bill passes...so that we can come back and study it."  Yes and yes!

IMG_9795.jpgOf course, it sounds like China already has better formal, albeit untested, intellectual property protection for fashion designs than the U.S. does.  (Who do we think we are, anyway, a global leader in IP protection?)  Perhaps the letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will help clean things up on this side of the world!