Absolutely! Trademarking your brand is crucial if you want to compete in the fashion industry. But don’t take my word for it, look at the trademark portfolio of any major fashion label and you will find a long list of trademark registrations.
For example, a quick trademark search in the USPTO database shows that Coach, Inc. currently holds over 100 trademarks for clothing products and leather goods. Why would Coach register this many trademarks? And why do they employ in-house trademark attorneys to manage and enforce these trademarks? The answer is simple: to protect their brand from trademark dilution.
How does trademark protection work?
Trademarks are designed prevent consumer confusion by identifying the source of goods. Thus, you can trademark a brand name, logo, slogan, monogram, or other identifiers of your clothing or fashion accessories. To get started it’s best to consult with a trademark attorney and have him or her conduct a clearance search in order to confirm that your proposed trademark is available for registration. If no conflicting trademarks have been previously registered, then you can apply for a federal trademark in the United States by filing an application with the USPTO. If the application is accepted, the trademark owner will receive national exclusive rights to use the trademark in association with the goods described in their application.
Copyright and Patent Protection for Clothing
You generally cannot trademark fashion designs, styles, patterns, or artwork, although you may be entitled to copyright protection in these areas. Copyright law is another form of intellectual property protection that applies to original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium. This means that if you have a created a unique work with elements of artistic expression it may be possible to obtain a copyright registration.
Patent protection may also be available for articles of clothing with a unique design or functionality. Design patents are used protect the way something looks, as opposed to the more commonly known utility patents, which protects how something works. Design patent applications have been increasing among major labels and many have recently been granted registrations.