Zac Posen Goes to Washington: Bill to Copyright Fashion Designs

Yesterday, Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Jerrold Nadler appeared at the Fashion Institute of Technology with new best friends like Nicole Miller and Narciso Rodriguez to trumpet legislation they cosponsored last week to stop Forever 21 and stores like it from creating knockoff versions of their designs.

According to the Associated Press, the Senator's Design Piracy Prohibition Act would close the loophole that makes it impossible to copyright a specific design for, say, a dress.

"Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's bad for our fashion industry here in New York," said Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the sponsors of the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate on Aug. 2.

"It's every bit as much intellectual property as writing a good book or making a good movie," he said. "And yet the law says, come rip it off."

Narciso Rodriguez, whose dress for Carolyn Bessette's 1996 wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. inspired thousands of imitations, lauded the bill.

"It's very harmful to my business," he told the AP.

Diane Von Furstenberg recently made headlines when she sued Forever 21 for copying her "Aubrey" and "Cerisier" dress designs; the case is seen by many lawyers to be a watershed test of how the current law may protect designers from copycats.

But legal experts are by no means certain that a law that copyrights clothing design is a good thing.