Keyon Lo


The current low-IP regime in the United States fails to provide adequate protection for fashion designs. Multiple bills had been proposed in Congress to extend copyright protection to fashion designs, but none of these was passed. Proponents of the “Piracy Paradox” doctrine suggest that unregulated copying is paradoxically beneficial to fashion designers and can foster innovation. This paper shows that the doctrine reflects a clear misunderstanding of fashion theories and how fashion trends are formed. It further argues that the fashion industry requires a diverse portfolio of inspired works rather than line-by-line knockoffs to foster trend formation. The Innovative Design Protection Act is a well-thought-out bill that can maximize the welfare of fashion designers, copyists, and the public. Congress needs to extend limited sui generis copyright protection to fashion designs that can prohibit fashion piracy without interfering with the production of inspired works.