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Intellectual Property in the Fashion Industry: from Vionnet to Dior

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This is a live online event hosted by The Research Forum at The Courtauld

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This talk examines how fashion designers have used intellectual property rights to protect their creations from piracy, and to advertise the authenticity of their products.

Among the numerous couturiers that have participated in this effort, the archives-based research presented in this talk focuses on the examples of Madeleine Vionnet and Christian Dior, who, along with their legal teams, pioneered the development of extensive intellectual property rights portfolios. These designers used various legal tools to protect and to market their work, including trademark, copyright, patent, trade dress, and anti-competition laws. During the interwar period, most of Vionnet’s legal action remained centred in France, but the post-war case of Dior shows how, later on, such strategies could be used on international markets. Finally, the talk questions the advantages and inconveniences of using law as a commercial instrument in the creative industries.

Véronique Pouillard is a professor of international history at the University of Oslo. She holds a PhD in history from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and she was a Harvard-Newcomen Fellow at the Harvard Business School. She is a co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Luxury Business. Her next book, Paris to New York. The Transatlantic Fashion Industry in the Twentieth Century, is forthcoming with Harvard University Press in May. Véronique currently leads the ERC-funded project Creative IPR: The History of Intellectual Property Rights in the Creative Industries.

Image: Minute of a lawsuit in the 12th Chamber of the Criminal Court of the Seine, 30 December 1921, Archives of the City of Paris. Picture: V. Pouillard

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