|H&M’s Garment||Unicolors’ Pattern|
In recent years, with the rise of fast-fashion brands and short video formats on social media, trends are rapidly evolving. Feeling pressured to constantly provide new, exciting looks to their customers, fast-fashion companies oftentimes skirt legal boundaries by mimicking copyrighted products of others. In turn, smaller brands and artists are often left discouraged, with their designs shamelessly stolen with no recourse.
When Unicolors, a fabric manufacturing company based in Los Angeles, California won its case against H&M, it marked a significant victory for creative artists and designers that depend on copyright laws to protect their intellectual property. Unicolors is a company that pushes the boundaries of traditions and introduces new and innovative ways to design fabric prints. With over 300,000 (or 200,000?) copyrighted prints, Unicolors proudly offers a wide range of design options to their clients.
When fast-fashion giant H&M wrongfully copied one of the fabric designs belonging to Unicolors, Unicolors had no choice but to legally respond. The crux of this issue centered on whether minor, unintentional technicality mistakes on applications invalidates a copyright patent. After a lengthy battle that amazingly reached the United States Supreme Court, the nine justices, in a 6-3 vote, favored the legal arguments of Unicolors. An opposite outcome would have severely undermined intellectual property rights of independent artists and creatives. As copyright forms are often filled by people who aren't especially keen about the law, mistakes are bound to happen. Accordingly, if copyright registrations were discredited because of small accidental errors during the application process, any incentive to display one’s creativity would entirely vanish. Artists and small brands oftentimes don’t have the capital to invest in lawyers. They should have the freedom to create without worrying about unfairly punitive mistakes. The Unicolors, INC. vs H&M decision allows them to do just that.