If Miuccia Prada sees a vintage designer jacket that she likes, she can copy it. She can even replicate it exactly and call it a Prada. Illegal? No. And yet, if Michael Lewis included a page from another writer’s book, he would be accused of violating intellectual property rights.
In a TED talk, Johanna Blakley explains that a jacket and most other clothing cannot be copyrighted because they are “utilitarian”. A logo on the jacket can receive copyright protection but not the jacket or blouse or coat or shoe. Contrary to what I would have expected, she believes that the industry is helped by the absence of protection. Copying begets trends; copying stimulates innovation. The threat of copying makes people repeatedly move onward to newer, better, and more unique designs.
Writers of jokes, designers of furniture, and inventors of autos also find it tough to secure patent protection.
Your opinion for protecting music?
The Economic Lesson
I wonder whether Alexander Hamilton would have disagreed with Ms. Blakley. Convinced it would foster invention, protect infant industries, and thereby stimulate economic growth, as Secretary of the Treasury, during the 1790s, Hamilton promoted a patent system.