How to Register a Copyright for Fashion and Apparel


Registering your fashion or apparel design will ensure it can be monetized and protected from infringement.

What is a Copyright?

A copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce or distribute copies of the work.

Creating a copyrightable design can be as simple as sketching out an idea on paper or capturing an image on your phone’s camera roll. However, while registering a design with the U.S. Copyright Office may be necessary to win a lawsuit over infringement claims—and it can also help establish ownership if you ever decide to license or sell designs—it isn’t required in order for your work to be protected by copyright law.

Duration of a Copyright

A work’s copyright duration depends on whether it’s published or unpublished. Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

If a work is published (e.g., by sale, lease, or license), then copyright protection lasts for 70 years from the date of publication, but if it isn’t published within that period, then it lasts for an additional 20 years—and you can renew your copyright during this time period as long as you comply with certain requirements and pay applicable fees. If a work has been made public but doesn’t meet these criteria for publication (for example: you’ve handed out copies to friends), then it has no U.S.-based federal copyright protection at all.

Difference Between Copyright and Trademark

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants exclusive rights to authors, composers, and artists to control the use of their original works. Protection under copyright law covers original works such as books, photographs, paintings, music compositions, sculptures and more. Copyright protects the following elements:

  • The expression of an idea.
  • A fixed tangible medium that contains that expression.

How Do you Register a Copyright?

It’s easy to register a copyright: just follow these steps:

  • Determine whether your work qualifies for copyright protection. In general, to qualify as original and creative enough to warrant protection under copyright law, your work must be more than just a mere idea or concept. It must be fixed in some tangible form (writing, sound recording, etc.), and it must contain some minimal level of creativity. If you aren’t sure if your creation is eligible for this type of legal protection, consult an attorney or search through our list of resources below.
  • Decide who should own the copyright on your Fashion or Apparel piece after registration (if applicable). Depending on whether multiple authors contributed significantly to the creation process, there are two different ways that ownership can be determined:

    1) Joint Authorship—If all collaborators made significant contributions towards creating something together over time as partners/employees/members.

    2) Contributory Authorship—If one person has substantially more material involvement in creating something than another person did during that same period of time.

    3) Owning It Yourself—If no one else had any role whatsoever in producing what became part of Fashion & Apparel.

Benefits of Registering your Copyrighted Work

There are many benefits to registering your copyrighted work. First and foremost, it gives you the opportunity to sue for monetary damages if someone infringes on your copyright. This includes damages in an amount equal to the profits gained by the infringer due to the infringement (Section 504(b)), or if these profits cannot be determined, then an award of “statutory damages” of up to $30,000 per violation (Section 504(c)). In some cases, this could mean going after a large corporation with deep pockets.

Another benefit is that upon registration with the Copyright Office you are entitled to seek injunctive relief (an order from a court forcing someone not use or distribute something), including ordering that infringing products be destroyed. You can also seek an order requiring removal from websites and search engines of any links leading users directly or indirectly from such sites back towards yours, along with copies being removed from websites where they have been posted without permission, and even have payment processors stop processing payments received via infringement related activity.

Registering your fashion or apparel design will ensure it can be monetized and protected from infringement.

If you want to copyright your fashion or apparel designs, you must register them with the United States Copyright Office. By registering your work with the Copyright Office, you can establish its date of creation, state that it’s original and give yourself the right to sue for infringement if someone uses your design without permission.


The benefits to registering your fashion or apparel design are significant. You can protect your work and ensure that it’s not being used without permission, which will help you monetize it and make sure no one else is profiting off of your ideas. The process takes just a few minutes and costs less than $100. If you want to be able to protect your work, we strongly recommend getting started today.

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