The UK’s departure from the European Union could “effectively close down” London Fashion Week as a platform to promote British businesses due to issues over intellectual property rights, the British Fashion Council (BFC) has warned the House of Lords.
In new evidence published yesterday relating to Brexit and trade in non-financial industries, including fashion, the BFC underlined the importance of the EU Regulation on Registered and Unregistered Community Design (UCD) for the fashion industry.
Designs are protected automatically, avoiding the cost of registering all designs across a potentially substantial portfolio, the BFC pointed out.
It raised concerns that, after Brexit, UK designers would only be able to benefit from the EU’s protection for registered and, more importantly, unregistered designs, if the “relevant designs are first disclosed in the EU”, which could ultimately make LFW unviable.
The BFC said asking designers to register design rights in the EU before a fashion show would be “costly across an entire portfolio, making that option uncompetitive”.
The Creative Industries Federation agreed that this was a possibility, adding: “Companies would enjoy less protection by first showing their work in the UK than in the EU.”
The UK’s protection for IP is also viewed as weaker than its EU equivalent. The Design Council said the UK’s equivalent to the UCD right was “not an equitable right for UK designers”, because it did not protect novel surface design (for example, the look of a shirt rather than how that shirt was made).
As previously reported by Drapers, last September London-based law firm Olswang launched a campaign to raise awareness of the risks Brexit could pose to the design rights of fashion businesses in the UK.