WASHINGTON – The board of the American Apparel & Footwear Association has rejected a compromise deal on federal legislation to provide copyright protection for fashion designs for three years, dealing a setback to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which championed the bill and pressed Congress for approval.

The two powerful industry groups had a deal in the works to break an impasse over the legislation, but the AAFA’s 60-member board dealt it a blow with its rejection of the compromise reached between the staffs of both associations. Failing to gain the AAFA support, the bill could languish in committee in the House and Senate for the remainder of the year.

“When we considered the risk and reward ratio [of the compromise], the unintended consequences were untenable,” said Peter Gabbe, AAFA’s chairman, who is also chief operating officer of Carole Hochman Designs. Among the unresolved sticking points cited by Gabbe were:

• Inadequate provision ensuring that only truly original designs receive protection.

• Potentially a major disruption in trade and new liabilities with U.S. Customs in the form of civil detentions or criminal penalties.

• Added costs associated with anticipated lawsuits and research of copyrighted designs.

For complete coverage, see Tuesday’s issue of WWD.