Katrin Vowinckel of Olswang (picture, left) was the final speaker of the day speaking on the topic of fashion brands, IP and the environment. She launched first by speaking on the evolution of sustainability. Vowinckel emphasized the increasing number of seasons for products to be put on the market, as well as the increase in the speed of production of clothing, going from 3-4 months to 12 days. These contribute to the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, such as resources taken to manufacture clothing, toxicity, waste and the social impact of the industries.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Vowinckel's incredibly knowledgeable and detailed presentation went through the issues of sustainability in the fashion industry and the ways in which labels can promote sustainability through mechanisms such as use of organic fiber, less use of resources and improvement of social standards. Vowinckel highlighted brands such as goodone and People Tree as labels that are using elements such as free trade, organic and recycled materials in their clothing lines.
Clothing brand's sustainability is also being recognized and certified by organizations such as the Soil Association and Fair Trade. Jeremy suggested the prolific nature of 'environmentally friendly' products have exhausted consumers. Jeremy suggested that the fashion industry needs to band together and generate at least one type of branding for environmentally friendly products. For more information on Kathrin's detailed speech please email the IPKat with the subject line "Environmental IP"at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy closed by saying that many of the issues that we looked at today are really frustrating because many of the concepts and cases are concerning industries nowhere similar to the fashion industry. Lawyers are charged with translating these cases to be applicable to the fashion industry, which can be very difficult. Another headache is that of preparing for litigation, not just in term of preparing and making good records of evidence, but even considering whether you have a good case. Designs can be so similar that it can be a swing vote to whether a design is infringing or not. Further, the majority of fashion litigation does not go to court due to the expense and the potential of one of the parties to run out of money.
It was a vibrant and dynamic conference which again shows that the fashion industry is presented with unique opportunities and challenges for IP owners, be it High Fashion or High Street.
The IPKat would like to thank all the speakers for today's conference.