Not many may know that 26 April is World Intellectual Property Day. Designer Sabysachi Mukherjee wouldn’t have known either had Sabyasachi Couture not won the National Intellectual Property (IP) Award, 2018. The Kolkata-based designer’s eponymous label, which holds the copyright on more than 700 of his designs, is the first design house to receive the award.
Imitation may be flattering but blatant copying has been a serious concern for designers. A name-and-shame tactic often gains easy applause, like the wildly popular Diet Sabya, an anonymously managed Instagram account (inspired by the international account Diet Prada) that calls out copycats with aggressive hashtags.
However, a legal approach can prove to be far more effective, believe Mukherjee and his team. “In India, IPR (intellectual property rights) laws were either weak or weren’t implemented for a long time, and the people copying our designs never thought designers would take very strong action against them," he says over email. “It is expensive to register every single design, but it helps us to break the notion that the fashion industry is frivolous and doesn’t understand such complexities."