The Ultimate Ying and Yang: IP and London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week (‘LFW’) was first started by the British Fashion Council in October 1983. It has now become as huge as New York, Milan or Paris Fashion Week. It is an integral part in showcasing British fashion and style for both emerging and established designers. Subsequently, the intellectual Property Office (IPO) has been helping designers and companies to register their intellectual property (patents, trade marks and other intellectual property designs) in order to protect their work.Â

LFW is a bi-annual event that has become one of the biggest fashion events to occur in fashion. It has gained critical acclaim for presenting fashion forward concepts to a wide-ranging audience. Through the years it has allowed models like Naomi Campbell and fashion designers like Stella McCartney to stun the world with their iconic talent. This year’s LFW (15-19 February 2019) showcases the works of British designers such as Victoria Beckham, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry, Aspinal of London and others.

The UK’s creative industry has seen a steady increase throughout the past twenty years. This sector equates to approximately 8.2 percent of the British economy and employs a workforce of about 2.8 million people.

The IPO first opened in 1852 as the Patent Office and was empowered by the Design & Printing of Linen Act 1787 (the first act to address the issue of copyright in industrial designs) to protect the rights under the act. This was the first step in British law recognising the importance/ value of fashion design. Â

Fashion has become synonymous with self-expression. It can be dramatic, satirical, political or allude to a world of fantasy or illusion. Â In addition, fashion always seems to be forward-facing and likes to reinvent its own wheel. Consequently, it is understandable that some people do not quite understand how fashion designs can translate into a commercial success. However, arguably since the world of fashion is driven by innovation and the expression of art, fashion designers seem to have mastered how to make their designs so desirable that a want is created. Consequently, it has become ever-more imperative that designers register their patents, trade marks and other designs with the IPO, as they need to protect their inventions from third parties.Â

The University of Arts seems to have been at the heart of new ideas in the last fifty years of British fashion. Central Saint Martins (formally known as St. Martin’s School of Art) is part of the University of Arts London (‘UAL’). UAL has become a significant force in the creativity of British fashion which incorporates six of London’s most prestigious art and design schools. These schools’ programmes look at the creative production from the digital to the physical.

UAL instils in all its approximately 18,000 design students, the importance of diversity, experimentation, connectivity and creativity. It is led by chancellor Grayson Perry who feels that “[a]ccessing high quality education is critical to shaping an artist. You need to work hard, be nice – but also learn to make mistakes, and there’s no better place to do this than at art school.”[1]

Furthermore, Grayson Perry describes UAL as “the world’s biggest factory of trouble”[2] reinforces the importance of registering/ protecting design rights and trade marks in order to transform “the factory of trouble” into certified intellectual property.  The IPO seems to happy to lend a helping hand in this endeavour.



[2] Ibid

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