Illustration of the legal protection of a design

Protect your textile design

Protecting your design when you are a textile designer

If you are a textile designer, you need to protect yourself against your work being stolen. It is very easy to reproduce a design and resell it under your own brand, which can be very detrimental to your business. That’s why it’s important to understand how to protect your design to ensure you reap the benefits.

There are several ways to protect your design. First, you can file a patent application for your design, which will allow you to benefit from an exclusive right to your product. You can also request a copyright for your design, which will also give you exclusive rights to your product. Additionally, you can also choose to protect your design by keeping it confidential. This means that you should not publish your design on the Internet or show it to third parties. You can also choose not to distribute your design to manufacturers who might reproduce it and then resell it under their own brand.

Finally, you can choose to mark your design with a serial number or barcode. This will allow the product to be traced and prove that you are the rightful owner. By following these tips, you can protect your design and ensure you reap the benefits. You must also be vigilant and always check that your design is not copied by third parties. Once your design is protected, you will then be able to enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

What are the laws that protect against design theft in France?

In France, intellectual property rights protect original creations. The laws that protect designs are copyright, trademark law, industrial design law and patent law.

Copyright protects original works, whether visual or not. This means that a designer can benefit from copyright protection if they created an original design and own it. Trademark law protects the name, logo and brand of a product. It is important to note that trademark law does not protect the design itself, but allows designers to protect their brand and name.

Industrial design law allows designers to protect their innovative and original designs (and in particular their textile patterns). This means that if another designer or company tries to copy your design, you can take legal action against them. Patent law protects original inventions. Thus, if a designer has created a unique and innovative product, he can apply for a patent to protect his invention.

Finally, it is important to note that French law also protects designs that are considered works of art. Thus, in France, designers can protect their designs by registering them with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI).

Textile design protection illustration

What are the risks incurred for textile design theft in France?

Textile design theft is considered a criminal offense in France and can result in severe penalties. The penalties incurred for textile design theft can be up to three years' imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros. Also note, people who are accused of textile design theft may also be forced to pay damages to the injured party. This means that if a designer discovers that their design has been copied and resold without their consent, they can seek damages from the perpetrator.

In addition, textile design theft can also have professional consequences. Designers who are accused of stealing textile design can be expelled from their professional association and banned from practicing their craft. Finally, it is important to note that although textile design theft is considered a criminal offense, it is sometimes difficult to prove that a design has been stolen. Therefore, it is important to always protect your design and ensure that confidentiality conditions are respected.

How to protect a pattern or design at European level?

If you have created a new design (new shape or new decoration) and individual (it does not look like any other), you can protect it.

As designs may also benefit from protection under copyright law if they meet the requirements for both types of protection: originality for copyright and novelty and individual character for rights related to designs and models. If you create an original design, copyright protection begins when the work is created. There is no need to register your design. For more information, see the designs page on the EUIPO website.

Why is it advisable to register a model in addition to your copyright?

Drawings (i.e. graphic works) and models (i.e. works of applied art) are potentially “protectable” by copyright.

The assessment of the criterion of originality in copyright law is demanding.

Indeed, according to European law, there is an intellectual creation specific to its author if the object in question is original. However, demonstrating the originality of a creation is not easy and the judges’ assessment is loaded with subjectivity.

To find out more about the criterion of originality necessary for copyright protection, read our dedicated article!

The restrictive assessment of judges in matters of copyright in recent years. That's not all. For 10 years, French judges have raised the threshold of creativity required. They thus make the ancient sacrosanct principle of “total accumulation” dear to French law disappear. This combination made it possible to generously protect many creators, through design law and copyright.

Concretely, this means that today, it is more difficult to protect your creations in France through copyright. The golden age is over. It’s the iron age, creators must be content with partial protection. That is to say only a potential accumulation, when the judges consider in their sovereign power that the creation is according to them “original”. Behind the somewhat soothing legal jargon, let's say that judges have the power to judge or not an original work and that there is an element of arbitrariness in that. Suffice it to say that all this opens the door wide to legal hazards.

The power of designs and models

For all these reasons, counterfeiters are often more impressed by the existence of design rights registered with an official body, than by a designer who only invokes copyright. Because it is possible and often easier to challenge the existence of copyright by calling into question their originality. So, if you can, register your creations as designs to better protect yourself!