By  on September 14, 2005

MILAN — The fashion bodies of Italy and France are increasingly teaming up to work on key issues, and the hot topics of copyright protection in the U.S. and counterfeits will be next.

During a press conference held in Milan on Tuesday, Mario Boselli and Didier Grumbach, the heads of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and Chambre Syndicale, respectively, blamed the loss of business and industry jobs on the overpowering digital flow of information and the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods. They said the need to protect intellectual property in the U.S. is no longer deferrable. Their statements follow a request by the two fashion associations earlier this year for the European Parliament to endorse a regulation whereby products made outside the European Economic Community should feature a label stating their country of origin.

"The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not recognize the importance of intellectual property," said Alain Coblence, a legal consultant to the Federation Francaise de la Couture, du Prêt à Porter des Couturiers et des Createurs de Mode.

Coblence said the Americans' concept of free competition lies behind this status quo. "The time has come to change, we've seen an evolution in the legal system and people have started reflecting on the issue, also prompted by the Internet boom," he said.

The lawyer said American designers and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have been showing an interest in changing the current law. "We got Narciso Rodriguez involved and, at the end of July, we met with the Copyright Office, the Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington, and everyone was convinced of the prejudice against designers," said Coblence.

During the presentation, Rodriguez took one of his dresses out of a suitcase. The style had contributed to sales of $400,000. He also showed "the exact replica" of that dress, which generated sales of $8 million. "Everyone was really very impressed by the presentation," said Coblence, adding that more appointments with state representatives are scheduled in the upcoming months and other American designers will participate in the meetings. The lawyer declined to provide specific names, however.

"It is not strategically effective to say who they are now, but obviously, the most creative designers are the ones that stand to lose more and they are the ones that are more involved in this project," he said.

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