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Appropriation of Artisans' Intellectual Property in Fashion Design Accessories: Piracy Disguised as Giving Back?

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Hamilton, Clovia
Journal: University of San Franscisco Intellectual Property and Tech Law Journal
Volume: 25
Page(s): 127-145
Date: 2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/10809
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Region: Africa
North America
South America
Subject(s): policy
Abstract: "Creative industries are industries focused on the creation and exploitation of intellectual property, including art, fashion design, and related creative services, such as advertisement and sales. During a trip to Burkina Faso in West Africa, Keri Fosse was taught by an African woman how to wrap newborns with fabric in a manner that creates a strong bond and frees the mother’s hands for other tasks. Burkina Faso has a craft culture and is known for its woven cotton and the textile art of Bogolan. Bogolan is a technique original to and involves the tradition of dyeing threads with bright colors, washing it skillfully, using coated and shiny Bazin, and using indigo from Benin. After this trip, Fosse and her husband developed a shirt which copies the African lady’s, Lalabu’s, technique. They developed a product called Soothe Shirt; and created a business called Lalabu. Lalabu is also the name of the African woman that the Fosses met. They have been successful. The Fosses have stated that they got the idea from Lalabu, but redesigned it for production. The couple advertises that they “giving back” by giving 2% percent of each purchase to help female African entrepreneurs through microfinancing. By offering micro-loans, the Fosses claim that when the African women repay the loan, they reinvest the money into the micro loan fund. This study advocates that practices like the Fosses’ are not representative of socially responsible entrepreneurial endeavors. Instead, these are instances of intellectual property piracy. The following sections are a discussion of the relevant legal foundation, theoretical foundation, and existing best practices. With respect to best practices, what is missing is shared ownership. Although the open appropriation of fashion designs may he commonplace in America, the appropriation of cultural artisan crafts created in other countries by Americans beg special attention."

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