How to protect your clothing line – advice from JLT Clothing Designer

Jess is a clothing designer and owner of the clothing line JLT. Sure, many of her clothes have been copied over the past 20 years, but she takes simple, affordable steps to protect her clothing designs. Here are her top 5 tips:

Tip #1 – Protect your clothing Brand

Definitely trademark register your clothing Brand (e.g. “JLT”) and logo. Trademark rights survive forever and most copycats wouldn’t dare to use your registered clothing brand. At the end of the day, customers remember and return to your Brand.

Although most clothing designers choose to file trademarks through a trademark attorney, this is now easily done online through Iptica’s South African trademark e-filing system (filing fee only $80).

Tip #2 – Incorporate design features into your clothing

JLT incorporates straps with beads at their ends into most of its clothing designs. When tied in a bow, the beaded straps are distinctive and can be protected by both design registrations and registered trademarks.

Jess believes that small distinctive design features like these are just as important as your trademarked Brand.

Tip #3 – Combine your unique clothing shape with a distinctive fabric pattern

Vibrant colours are central to JLT’s design philosophy. But, within a clothing range there is always “The poster-boy crowd-pleaser” – being a specific clothing style in a distinctive pattern. Jess’ advice: get a Design Pending Number for each top-seller to deter competitors from copying it.

Tip #4 – Take a “common feature” and exaggerate it

Jess loves cowl necks. She adds them to many of her most popular dresses and tops. But, she intentionally takes them a little further – adding more scoops. Cowl necks aren’t “new”, but the distinctive look of the exaggerated cowl can easily be photographed, filed online and labeled “Design Pending”.

Tip #5 – Focus on your upcoming Season’s clothing range

Considering that your focus is always upon the upcoming Summer / Winter Season’s clothing line, 6-month Design Pending Numbers are perfectly tailored for the clothing industry. Dolce & Gabbana stuff photos of all their upcoming Season’s clothes into a single Design Pending Number application just to enable D&G to say they’re “Design Pending”. You can do so too for only $99.

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