Who ‘owns’ fashion? Europeana Fashion releases IPR guidelines

Blog first posted on the Europeana Fashion blog.

What do Chanel’s interlocking Cs and  Louboutin’s red sole have in common? The answer is they are all protected by intellectual property rights (IPR). As many professionals in the cultural and creative industry often face IPR, Europeana Fashion has decided to release its guidelines on how to manage IPR when publishing content online.

Europeana FashionAn example from the IPR Guidelines

So what does IPR mean exactly? IPR means someone has ownership over a creation or invention and that this ownership is protected by law. For example, other fashion houses are not allowed to use the interlocking Cs of Chanel because this symbol is the intellectual property of Chanel and only Chanel is allowed to use it.

The importance of IPR in fashion is illustrated by legal disputes. For example, Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent recently went to court over the intellectual ownership of the red sole. Can Yves Saint Laurent also use the red sole on its shoes or does that idea solely ‘belong’ to Christian Louboutin?

These examples show that IPR is a valuable asset in the fashion industry and whether you create a new shoe or want to share a photo of that shoe online, it is important to understand your rights and respect the rights of others.

So when the cultural heritage organisations in the Europeana Fashion project decided they would publish images of their collections online, they also needed to think about the intellectual ownership of the objects in their collection.

That is why our partner the Victoria & Albert Museum wrote ‘best practice’ IPR guidelines. These guidelines support partners with selecting content they can publish online. They combine the most important IPR principles with ‘best practice’ flowcharts and useful documents.

Europeana Fashion IPR guidelines

Now we have decided to make these guidelines available to the public. While we think they can help other professionals in the cultural and creative industry, we also hope that they can promote awareness about publishing and sharing cultural material on the internet.

While these guidelines do not constitute legal advice and simplify a complex subject, we hope they go some way to reassuring you that by combining a little bit of law, logic and experience, you can handle intellectual property matter.

View and download the IPR Guidelines

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