She took on the battle against copycats solo. There are many cases of alleged pilferage and one has to be equipped to understand if it is plagiarism or inspiration," says Samant Chauhan. You have to be one step ahead of the others. You have to apply for protection first and it shouldn’t be in public domain, plus, designers make so many clothes all year round, they can’t foretell what will work."Since then, it has been copied by every brand possible. They don’t realise that they need to protect their designs, considering the rampant copying that exists," says Safir, who has worked internationally with brands like Hermes and Louis Vuitton. There are basic silhouettes and one improvises as a designer and that’s where creativity lies. If you see Ralph Lauren has made his horses bigger to stop counterfeiting.Several designers have spent time to address this menace outside courtrooms – sent requests, letters, and notices, but in vain. Some big brands of the West were built on that: "repackaging" better what others created." — Ritu Kumar, fashion designerDamn! Same-to-same While several designers have taken to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to name and shame copycats, plagiarism continues unabashedly. Most of them have promised never to do it again. In terms of silhouettes, you can’t claim copyright. What’s worrying is how blatantly they copy the images from our websites, social media and sometimes from our stores and put them to use without any fear," she adds.Fashion VigilanteAce designer Anita Dongre hoped the fashion world would fight plagiarism together, but it didn’t as egos precede reason. The copycats were renowned textile houses from Jaipur and a famous bridal wear store in Chandni Chowk, Delhi.Recently, she moved the Delhi High Court against infringement of her registered designs. In the long run, people get to know who are the real innovators and copycats. The best way to counter the counterfeiting market is to have your own affordable ready-to-wear brand that is scalable to every city in the country. The duo has been synonymous with drapes in Indian menswear with military chic details and minimalist structure. And the frontrunner of this campaign has been Sabyasachi Mukherjee. "The law takes its own time but at times it can get a bit exhausting. But with social media explosion in the last five years, the problem has attained gigantic proportions. "There is a lack of awareness in the fashion world. As a precautionary measure, we have undertaken legal remedies. Her husband Mukesh took the lead. Four years ago when they introduced it, their style became a fresh take in Indian occasion wear for men. We presented before court the similarity in the shape, configuration and ornamental surface pattern of the original ensemble and the copy," says Anita. As this is a creative effort however, I feel sometimes one tends to over step that line between inspiration and being too inspired, rocking the already fragile boat." Today, she cannot imagine going through the ordeal again. After all, imitation really isn’t the sincerest form of flattery!. He has mentioned about the countless hours he and his team put in to get the pattern, forms and prints right. If you ask me, I feel that copyright issues must be addressed in fashion and design schools so students can understand the concept of design.Believe it or not but 20 years ago, the doyen of Indian couture Ritu Kumar almost had to shut shop. Even today, Kumar shudders when she thinks about it. But in India, there is always that grey area that many exploit. The key to solve this is sticking to your signature and evolving it with time," he explains. In an age when clothes and designs are "ripped-off" by copycats from catwalks and peddled in boutiques and sidewalks in a matter of hours, designers and fashion houses are turning to intellectual property rights (IPR) to secure their trademark designs and register their sketches, artwork, colour palettes and ensemble.The challenge that plagiarism poses is that it affects the entire ecosystem."When you are an important voice and a power brand, plagiarism comes with the territory" — Sabyasachi Mukherjee"Social media has helped this cause enormously as you have evidence which is seen by millions. These cases need to be expedited so that no one dares to copy designers. The customers are hoodwinked into purchasing poor quality copies of the original. As and when third parties have copied our designs, we have immediately shot legal notices and even filed lawsuits to safeguard our rights," says Anita.Ideas can’t be copyrighted and in India, design laws are not stringent in terms of addressing plagiarism. He has helped many designers like Gaurav Gupta and Rajesh Pratap Singh to copyright their designs to counter plagiarism.Safir is on the Breathable Polyester stretch fabric board of the Fashion Design Council of India.The Laws of FashionTo bring about a distinctive change in the fashion world and stop the menace of plagiarism, Safir Anand, who runs an almost 80-year-old law firm Anand & Anand has been working in this field and was also awarded for its work on IPR.
They haven’t been defined in a way where one can make a case.When it comes to couture, there is an invisible line between "creative inspiration" and "plagiarism".Drapes & DupesPlagiarism and counterfeiting in the fashion world is a deep-rooted problem and Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra have been victims of counterfeiting."I think being in the fashion world what is most important is originality. Her cases are still pending before the court.Fashion vanguardWhile plagiarism of designs is a serious concern across the world and many designers vent their distress on social media, there are some self-appointed couture watchdogs like Diet Prada and Diet Sabya to name a few, who call out fakes and expose the copycat culture in the fashion world with cheeky captions and photos.Seeing the uproar that such incidents create whether it is Samant Chauhan vs Rohit Bal or Anamika Khanna’s young boys Viraj and Vishesh, who were in the eye of a storm, many have decided to take the legal recourse to ensure their designs remain unique. Tod’s protected the dots at the back of the shoes and Burberry protected the ‘check’ as a trademark not a design," says Safir. It has come to a point where some large apparel stores have gained a cult following for stocking duplicates of our designs and those of other designers. Also, innovation is at an all-time low and in the case of artisans it’s problematic as it takes away their share of livelihood, which is generated out of the quantum of purchase of the original work of art. But in India, there is always that grey area that many exploit."Our bridal lehengas and fabric prints are constantly copied.In fact, many celebrities and designers religiously follow these virtual watchdogs to avoid fashion faux pas and check if their designs are being copied. No one can copy Coca Cola abroad and get away with it.""Our laws are not sympathetic. So a significant amount of research went into assessing the magnitude of the problem. "We obtained ex–parte ad interim injunction orders from the HC restraining them from manufacturing or dealing in any kind of garment, lehenga etc. After that experience we register all our designs. It all depends which audience you are catering to. The screens that she had designed and printed (12 of them) had been stolen and sold in Kolkata – and everyone was copying her designs."I believe plagiarism is a worldwide issue that cannot be stopped."We are extremely vigilant of our intellectual property rights (IPR) and assets and therefore, we have secured various trademark, design registrations etc.
Then there is The RFID tag is sewn into a bag or clothing and buyers can use their phone to scan the tag for verification," explains Safir. In fact, we have summoned the culprits with cease and show cause notices in many cases. There is a physical and, more importantly, mental cost to seeing one’s work being blatantly copied and undermined every single day.Copycats & CopyrightSafir feels that some designers are penny wise, pound foolish, as they don’t understand the importance of IPR. They had to set up an entire team within the company to issue notices to merchants who copy their work. Let others copy you, it will only add to your glory in the eyes of everybody," she says."Our laws are not sympathetic. After the notices, we as a team constantly monitor the culprits.A stitch in time saves nineAs one of the bigger design houses in the country, which caters to men and women across all age groups, Anita has always had some amount of her designs and silhouettes copied. Coca-Cola has worked with Visualead to start Visual QR Codes and it allows customers to verify its authenticity by simply scanning the code.Kumar thought of closing down her business and becoming a full-time artist. He allegedly went to court against an ethnic wear firm and won the case. The reality turned out to be much worse than she had imagined.Worse still, there were wedding blogs with customer reviews on how the Chandni Chowk shop was a must visit for dirt-cheap copies of designer lehengas. After that experience we register all our designs.Fashion Design Council of India, chairman Sunil Sethi has seen many such incidents take place and often tries in his personal capacity to soothe many a ruffled feathers by inviting both warring parties to negotiate. Good brands have to stay ahead of competition by continuously innovating and creating trends. She filed nine cases and won all of them after eight years. We are doing that by launching our new menswear bridge to luxury brand by opening two such flagship stores in Delhi in March 2020," says Shantanu. Designer Vaishali Shadangdule says plagiarism always existed. No one can copy Coca Cola abroad and get away with it