In Nigeria, compared to other forms of law, like public law, entertainment law and others, there is a gap in the laws guiding the fashion industry, which is an aspect known as fashion law.
Fashion law, which is also regarded as apparel law is an emerging aspect in law that deals in issues surrounding the life of an outfit, including the conception, brand protection and many more. It is the legal framework guiding the fashion industry, including production lines, as well as perfume and cosmetics industries.
Why is fashion law important? And why is it needed to flourish in Nigeria?
Importance Of Fashion Law
Due to the fact that the Internet aids the sharing of information of any kind, lots of designers and fashion entrepreneurs have had their designs replicated, and this shouldn’t be so.
According to statistics, design piracy and copycat litigation have grown over the years because designers are not willing to take legal actions concerning these pertinent issues they face.
Being the legal framework, fashion law protects every individual in the fashion industry, from the designers to the models, and even the show producers.
What, then, are the things to note about fashion law in Nigeria?
The Nigerian fashion industry is a fast-growing one with new challenges, opportunities, and problems. Fashion law is meant to cover areas such as copyright, trademarks, design patents, counterfeits, trade secrets, licensing agreements, advertising, and publicity at every stage of the fashion business.
Although Nigeria does not have a comprehensive and specific legal framework to govern the fashion industry, fashion designers can still take legal actions under the existing legal framework for intellectual property in Nigeria.
Intellectual property, which refers to creations that are as a result of creativity, can be protected legally under the Copyright Act, Patent and Designs Act, and the Trademarks Act.
The Copyright Act protects the sketch and drawing of a fashion designer or illustrator because it is an artistic creation. An angle in the Act which does not favour the fashion industry is that the design must not be intended to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by any industrial process. This cannot be applied in the fashion industry though, because some Nigerian brands, especially ready-to-wear brands design outfits to be worn by a number of people.
Alternative protection is covered by the Patent and Designs Act in the legal framework. Another limitation as regards the fashion industry is that the design must not have been in the public domain. In fashion where outfits designed are, to a large extent, dependent on the trends in the fashion industry in order for clients to purchase them, this then becomes a clause.
Fashion brands that protect their trademarks either through a suitable brand name, logo, and trademark registration have the legal backing of the Trademark Act in the event that an infringement has taken place. Though the Nigerian legal framework with respect to the fashion industry is still weak, these features reduce the risk of others stealing ideas and designs from a particular brand.
There are many aspects that need to be worked on regarding the fashion laws in Nigeria, but fashion entrepreneurs can employ adequate protection through trademark filing and enforcement and many more, before laws and regulations specific to the fashion industry are provided.