The House of Valentino under the creative direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri & Pierpaolo Piccioli, have just been granted a fashion patent for yet another design this time for the outward appearance of the 'Valentino Red Colour Block Scalloped Pump Shoe' design (pictured above). Since the houses restructuring in 2007, the CEO, Stefano Sassi has overseen one of the luxury label’s most expansive global growth strategies, including a broadening of their design collections to increase sales and attract new customers pushing the brands offering to the forefront of fashion. Included in that strategy has been the utilising of design patents, previous design patents for the house of Valentino can be found here.
These design patents highlight the growing role of fashion design patents in the fashion world. Especially for those designer brands based in the U.S where the law of copyright offers limited protection for the outward appearance of a design.
A design patent is a form of legal protection granted to the ornamental design (i.e. the aesthetic qualities) of a functional item. Design patents protect the way something looks, as opposed to more commonly known utility patents, which protect the way something is used. Since a design is manifested in appearance this seems to be proving particularly useful for the fashion industry, with brands such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Gucci and lately Christian Louboutin (only last month) obtaining protection for the appearance of his 'Picks & Co Potpourri Spiked Toe Pump.'
In the US, there is also a time limit on seeking design patent protection it can only be sought if the design has not been publicly known for more than a year. Fashion patents like the above one, lasts for a period of 14 years so also gives us an indication of what products luxury fashion brands intend to strategically develop during this time period.
Be sure to check out the work of Law professor Sarah Burstein on design patents. who tweeted about Valentino's latest patented design.