Friday 14 June 2019

Ugg, its all so unfair!

Today in the New York Times

Homage or Theft? Carolina Herrera called out by Mexican Minister

Most people are ignorant of how the fashion industry works. There are exceedingly few designs in the industry that qualify for copyright protection. Copyright also has a limited time scale of protection, usually about 70-90 years. Outside of that designs and pictures become public domain. Copyright can only be registered to companies or individuals not cultures. The Mexican embroidery designs referenced by Herrera in her 2020 collection are likely 100s of years old, therefore not creditable to any individual and as such don't qualify for any legal protections. While the Herrera companys collection may have derived from murky ethics it doesn't infringe any legal issues of copyright. 

"Cultural appropriation" has become a buzzword construct for BIPOC communities to express their grievance over feelings of powerlessness.

Heres a great example that happened in Australia a month ago.

Heres a picture of my Ugg boots. That trade name on the back of my boots become illegal about a month ago.

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That Australian Ugg boot manufacturing company has gone bankrupt and it is out of business even though they’ve been making Ugg boots for 50 years. I clearly remember buying my first pair in 1978 at Greymouth on the South Island of New Zealand.

This is the story of how the entire Australian Ugg boot manufacturing industry has been ruined. 

In the 1970s an Australian man living in the US copyrighted the name and general design features of an Ugg boot. He had a business making and selling them in the USA at the time and the particular footwear was unlike anything there so he wanted to protect himself from being copied. After moving on from that business an American business bought the copyright and manufactured the footwear at scale. They aggressively pursued enforcing the copyright despite the fact this footwear had been made in Australia and New Zealand for long before the US copyright was created. In 2018 they took the Australian manufacturer to court and won the case that their copyright was infringed by the Australian business. 

That company is finished along with every other maker of Ugg boots here.

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