Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fashionable Technology and Intellectual Property Rights

Fashionable or wearable technology is the new wave of right now and of the future. We can print in 3D, wear smart glasses, and even shop online with a personal stylist. In fact, e-commerce has taken the place of many traditional stores. Wearable technology is also evident in the merging of tech and fashion, two industries that we probably would not have ever put together until now. Intel Corp. is joining forces with influential brands in the fashion industry such as Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Opening Ceremony to explore the markets of smart, wearable technology that consumers would desire. Read more about the merge here.

As a Fashion Legallaire, I have to ask whether fashion technology is the crux that could help push copyright legislation for fashion.Of course technology has to be patented for its functionality and ingenuity, but my current research of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)  leads me to believe that just like fashion, copyrighting technology does more harm than good by stifling innovation, mainly through a misapplication of the DMCA law, and through a designer's fear of getting sued. Some experts really do think that copyright law hurts technology.
Zackees Turn Signal Glove (Zackees)

 To answer this question I spoke with Robert Burns Nixon, CFO and Board of  San Francisco Fashion Week Inc, the largest nonprofit fashion industry education and economic and development in California. If anyone knows a thing or two about wearable technology, Nixon is more than qualified. He works with different organizations and groups dedicated to the development and business of fashionable technology including Fashion Tech Week and SXSW, the world's preeminent music, film, and interactive stage.

Nixon says
The first approach for technology integration in luxury products may be to simply expand, extend or refresh the brand's signature fundamentals, but technology does allow a much broader area of design, development and new strategic partnerships which should add up to stronger and more defensible fashion "property" rights. I also belong to the Law of Fashion group here on Linkedin and they tend to have current and spirited coverage of recent legal developments and industry ramifications - however, I've yet to find any in depth fashion law discussion around the implications of wearable tech, which makes it one of the more interesting areas to watch!

He is absolutely correct. The merging of fashion and technology is definitely an interesting area to watch. It means more innovation and more jobs. For example, Femgineer highlights the importance of female engineers and women who code at e-commerce retailers such as ModCloth, to grow more leading ladies in tech.

If you want to see more fashion technology in your neighborhood then check out these upcoming national events:

1. Fashion Tech Week   Feb. 24 -Mar. 2  in San Francisco, CA
          *Features fashion, design and technology brands, leaders, startups, and strategic development events including Retail + Tech Summit, Wearable + Tech conference, and San Francisco Fashion Lab.

2. SXSW Accelorator Pitch Mar. 8-9 in Austin Texas
         *Interactive Week is Mar. 7-11; Music Week is 11-16; and Film Week is 7-15

3. Fashion Law Week Fashion Tech  Feb. 24 - March. 2 in Washington, D.C.
          * Learn about the law of fashion in a digital market place.