Fellow Harvey Mudd College grad Janet Hansen, who is President and Chief Fashion engineer of Enlighted Designs, has found, perhaps inadvertently, a way to combat the inability to get copyright protection in clothing design. While you generally can’t protect the cut, stitch, weave, and design of clothing with copyright, you can protect the designs on the fabric – the print. Design generally isn’t eligible for copyright, because the law says clothing is a functional item. Functional items aren’t the realm of copyright, unless the artistic elements cannot be separated from, or cannot exist without, the functional aspects. Clothing covers the body, protects it from the elements, and those functions are generally not related to the appearance, fashion, or artistry of the clothing.
However, Enlighted Designs combines function and artistry in clothes that meld lights with fabric. The clothes can light up, pulse, blink, and glow. Why blog about this now? She recently was featured in an alumnae newsletter, and Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera grabbed spotlight attention wearing her outfits in performances this past weekend at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards. Congrats to her and her company!