The fashion industry is a global industry, generating $1.2 trillion in revenue. Consequently, the question of whether—and to what extent—fashion designers can protect their works under the intellectual property laws of their country is hotly debated. In Asia, the answer to this question varies from country to country. In India, for instance, fashion designers can protect their creations under the Indian Copyright Act of 1957 and the Designs Act of 2000. In China, conversely, copyright protection is extremely limited under the recently amended Copyright Law of 2001. The United States presently affords very limited copyright protection to fashion designs under the Copyright Act because designs must pass a stringent “separability” test to distinguish elements that can be copyrighted from elements that are utilitarian in their function.
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