Fashion Rules was developed by IP Australia in 2007 - and launched by Australian designer Akira Isogawa - to assist what the organisation characterises as 'the Australian Textiles, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) industry'. Much production by that industry, in particular for the mass market, has been migrating overseas, with some estimates suggesting that 80% of Australia's consumption of footwear and clothing is now sourced from offshore (particularly from China). Designs, copyright and trade mark law however remains important - both for protection of Australian creativity and investment and for avoidance of infringement of another nation's IP. At the launch the deputy minister commented that
Investment in intellectual property protection in the fashion industry is just as important as investing time, effort and money in developing new designs ... There is nothing more soul destroying than seeing your hard work and creativity being copied and exploited by an unscrupulous operator.The survey attracted responses from 149 entities, almost double the respondents in the 2008 survey. 30% of respondents this year were designers, 16% were marketing professionals and 28% were in the 'Other' category (including "teachers, lecturers and trainers", production managers and business owners).
The survey was aimed at identifying "changes to the level of intellectual property awareness and understanding" among TCF members. A secondary objective was evaluation of recent IP Australia marketing and communications activities.
75% of respondents were "very aware" of intellectual property (which IP Australia indicates is a 24% increase from the previous survey), 23% were "somewhat aware" and 3% were "not aware". Awareness of trade marks was highest, with 93% of respondents aware, followed by copyright (86%), Patents (82%) and Design protection (75%).
IP Australia claims that the results indicate "a 24% increase in the level of IP awareness", with "overall results indicating growth levels of IP amongst the Australian TCF industry". The meaningfulness of the self-assessment is unclear: respondents might be modest about a sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of IP principles and practices or instead mistakenly but politely report that they are "very aware" yet lack a good sense of how IP works. I'm aware of the principles of the internal combustion engine but if you value your hardware please don't ask me to disassemble and rebuild what's under the bonnet of your car.
Assessments of institutional validation will vary. IP Australia reports that
One of the key areas of interest was to ascertain how successfully the Fashion Rules resource had penetrated the TCF market. 30% of respondents had seen the resource with the majority of participants viewing it online (43%). Exposure via a Ragtrader magazine promotion came in second with 33%, followed by Fashion Week promotions (17%). 23% of respondents specified 'other' which included Design Victoria events, a Fashion Group International workshop and a TAFE conference.I've moved on to Philip Leith's Software and Patents in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 2007).