Intellectual Property in Fashion Industry

WIPO and Italian Government Host the Meeting

Some 200 representatives from the world’s leading fashion houses, and government, academic and trade circles, from 40 countries gathered in Caserta, Italy this week to highlight the importance of the intellectual property (IP) system in enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in the textile and clothing sectors. The international symposium, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), from November 30 to December 2, 2005, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities (Italian Patent and Trademark Office) and the Institute for Industrial Promotion (IPI), reviewed the status of the textile and clothing sectors and stressed the importance of the tools of the IP system to these sectors whose success strongly depends on technological innovation, innovative designs and creativity expression. The symposium was opened by H.E. Claudio Scajola, the Italian Minister of Productive Activities and Mrs. Carlotta Graffigna, Director and Controller who represented WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris.

Copyright, industrial designs, trademarks, trade secrets and patents are key intellectual property tools that are of great importance to the fashion industry in the knowledge-driven economy enabling them to compete effectively in domestic and export markets in the era of increasing globalization and market integration. These tools play a key role in establishing and consolidating a company’s market position, and by protecting intangible capital through specific IP rights, fashion houses may increase profit margins and improve their market share. To reap the full benefits of the IP system, companies need to develop an IP strategy that is fully integrated into their overall business strategy. Through timely protection and effective use of IP rights, companies can become a more viable financial concern and a more attractive investment option for investors and financial institutions and indeed, for their customers, employees, suppliers and other partners.

The role of the IP system in the fashion industry at the meeting in Caserta – one of the oldest Italian textile clusters – was examined and illustrated using case studies from the textile and clothing sectors. Keynote speakers included Mrs. Carlotta Graffigna, Mr. Pio Del Gaudio representative of the Municipality of Caserta, Antonio Grella, Dean of the Second University of Naples (SUN), and Carlo Cicala, President of the Union of Entrepreneurs of the District of Caserta. Major fashion houses, such as Benetton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gianni Versace, ZARA, Miroglio, and Suberis contributed to the debate, presenting concrete experiences and successful case studies. Mr. Roberto Cota, Undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities presided over the closing ceremony along with Mr. Guriqbal Singh Jaiya, Director of the SMEs Division of WIPO.

The background reading material and presentations made at the symposium are available on the website of the SMEs division of WIPO at

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