How Filipino Designers Can Prevent Idea Theft

There’s nothing more frustrating for a fashion designer than to have his creations stolen. First of all, your fashion designs are your work of art. New clothing and accessory designs start with the right choice of color combinations and carefully drawn patterns that reveal your creativity and uniqueness as an artist.

Likewise, your designs are not just your work of art but also your source of income. Your fashion ideas are your fashion business’ costly assets that deserve to be protected from concept thieves. Thus, you have to do everything you can to safeguard your designs. Here are some tips on how you can protect your fashion ideas and designs from theft.

Put everything in writing

Whether you’re pitching for a potential client or you’re sending your design for production, make sure to keep a paper trail.

Documented agreements and discussions with clients and suppliers can come in handy in case you need evidence that the design is yours.

Another way to protect your concepts is by letting workers and clients sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This will discourage your workers to sell your designs or copy your ideas in case they decide to start their own business.

However, be extra careful when letting clients sign an NDA as some clients may not be comfortable with it. In case your client doesn’t agree to sign an NDA, you may just include a confidentiality statement in your business contract.

Register for copyright

Copyright is the legal protection extended to the owner of the rights in an original work.

According to the Intellectual Office of the Philippines (IOP), “original work” covers every production in the artistic, literary, and scientific domains.

Generally, the term of protection of copyright for original works is the life of the author, plus 50 years after his death.

To make sure your original fashion designs are protected from idea theft, file an application for a certificate of copyright registration with the Copyright Division of the National Library and the Supreme Court Library.

You may check the IOP website for information about how to register.

Know your intellectual property rights [restrict]

Protecting your fashion concepts does not end in simply registering for a copyright. You have to be aware of your rights as creator of original work. Find out the types of rights covered by your copyright. Check out its limitations and fair use.

Additionally, you may consult a lawyer regarding your intellectual property rights as a designer is and other legal matters related to your fashion business. Keeping yourself abreast of the law can help you get ahead in protecting your original concepts.

Watermark your designs

In a world where online sharing platforms exists, watermarking your fashion designs is one way of warning the cyber thieves and the copycats.

While this does not give 100% guarantee of idea theft prevention, a watermark can send a message to the viewers of your work that you are aware of your rights as a designer.

Be careful about outsourcing your designs

While outsourcing is a popular business strategy nowadays, outsourcing your designs may have some repercussions to your business.

As a fashion designer, you can opt to outsource other areas of your business such as the administrative tasks, human resources and finance.

However, always think twice about having an outsourcing company or a freelancer create designs for your brand. Despite confidentiality statements and NDAs, you can never tell when a third-party ally may turn into a copycat competitor.

Work only with reputable factories

When it comes to companies handling the manufacturing of your fashion pieces, check out years of experience and reputation in the fashion industry. Be very meticulous in selecting your partner manufacturers.

Research about them thoroughly. Whether it’s a local manufacturer or factories from China or Bangladesh, don’t forget to ask for the company’s portfolio and list of clients. Working with a reputable manufacturer lowers the risk of your designs being stolen.

As a fashion designer, idea theft can rob you of both your artwork and your income. So before it’s too late, guard your designs and ideas by following the above mentioned tips on how to prevent fashion design theft.

Actionable Takeaway:

Protect your fashion designs and ideas from copycats and idea thieves. Register for a copyright now.


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