WASHINGTON — Intellectual property theft is in the crosshairs of the newly formed National Textile Association.
The NTA, formed by a merger between the Northern Textile Association and Knitted Textile Association, has created a working group to identify and seek solutions to the costly problem of international piracy of intellectual property in the textile industry.
Companies that produce upholstery fabrics, printed fabrics and apparel fabrics have joined together to prepare a "white paper" to present to the U.S. government. They plan to outline the extent of the problem, the monetary losses and request specific actions the U.S. could take to combat intellectual property violations.
To that end, the group has commenced a survey of the U.S. textile industry to quantify the value of intellectual property such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, and estimate the magnitude in dollars of losses due to the lack of international enforcement of intellectual property rights.
The NTA is also exploring the possibility of bringing action against one or more of the most egregious offenders under a section of a trade law.
"Design has become such a critical core competency for the survival of so many textile companies such as ourselves that the most aggressive measures are absolutely necessary against infringers," said George Shuster, president and chief executive officer of Cranston Print Works.
Larry Liebenow, ceo of Quaker Fabric Corp, citing an estimate by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute — a separate lobbying and trade group — said piracy amounts to a $100 million a year problem in the U.S. alone.
It is a bigger problem than that in the global marketplace, "which will become increasingly important as the U.S. develops new trade agreements around the world," Liebenow said.
Cynthia Gordan, vice president and general counsel at Quaker, said the company recently settled three copyright infringement cases against three U.S.-based companies that were bringing fabrics into the U.S. — in two cases from China and in one case from Italy — and infringing on Quaker’s copyrighted designs.
"Of course, that is a very expensive way of dealing with an infringement problem, one legal action at a time in three different jurisdictions," she said. "From our standpoint, we are working on this white paper to see if we can enlist the support of our government in developing a more cost-effective approach to this problem."Quaker brought the issue to the attention of Jim Leonard in July, deputy assistant secretary of textiles, apparel and consumer goods at the Commerce Department.
"The whole IPR issue came out of a session with attorneys at Quaker Fabric who asked me to come in to talk about their concern over textile designs being pirated," Leonard said. "I’ve started a major effort in this building to research this issue and expanded it to other agencies."
Leonard said Commerce Secretary Don Evans is also interested in the issue and has asked to be informed on any progress.
Gordan said Leonard facilitated a meeting on July 18 in Washington with officials from Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Customs Service. She said it is the group’s hope that Leonard will help gain access to appropriate government officials who can address the concerns.
"These big exporters of [printed, apparel and upholstery fabrics] are hurt by people who break the rules," said Leonard. "I can’t solve their problems, but I have made a commitment that I won’t drop the ball."
To that end, Leonard has pledged to "raise the visibility of the issue" in the ongoing round of World Trade Organization talks, which are slated for completion in 2005.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty