Our world is filled with copyrights in order to protect people and companies from having their ideas stolen or duplicated. But do copyrights really help industries to thrive? Johanna Blakley doesn't think so. As Deputy Director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, Blakley studies the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation, and finds that those industries unrestricted by copyrights - such as the fashion industry - thrive in the marketplace, and that "knock-offs" don't actually hinder the sales of original brands. In fact, she believes the ability to "steal" a design leads to greater creativity and a faster evolution of ideas.
Innovation is about changing the way we live. Outside of a "Sex in the City" world, one might challenge the notion that the fashion industry is about innovation. Further, one might challenge the notion that the fashion industry is unrestricted by copyrights, or by trademarks. As to evidence that "knock-offs" hinder sales of originals, one can look to the recent FujiFilm v. Jazz case. The Venetians in the 15th century figured out that allowing people to "steal" ideas didn't encourage creative people to talk about their ideas. Blakely needs to do her homework.
See also the inverse:
When a "first rater" copies a "second rater"
Further, in addition to copyrights and trademarks, design patents also limit the fashion world. In December 2009, Paris Hilton was sued related to shoes asserted to infringe US Design Patent D579,642. Blakely's fundamental assumption is incorrect.
Take Mr. Ebert's comments with more than a grain of salt: he is a registered patent attorney in NJ. His interest is in maintaining the status quo.
Watch the presentation - it's quite interesting.
In response to S. Burroughs (pen name? related to William S. Burroughs?), Lawrence B. Ebert is a registered patent attorney, which does not imply that Ebert's interest is in maintaining the status quo. Ebert does have a Ph.D. from Stanford, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. Blakely received a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Ebert does oppose "post grant review" in the patent area, introduction of which would create more work for patent attorneys. So-called reformers, such as Jaffe and Lerner, who demonize patent attorneys, favor post grant review, which would benefit patent attorneys. Going beyond arguments about people, it remains true that intellectual property, in the form of copyrights, trademarks, and design patents, is utilized in the fashion industry. A world in which ideas are routinely stolen evokes Hobbes.