Fashion label Finders Keepers has a strategic approach to securing its Intellectual Property (IP). Each month, the head designer and one of the label’s founders, Melanie Flintoff, decide what designs are the most unique and moves to have those fabrics or patterns registered with IP Australia.
It must be an arduous and difficult decision because, on average, including prints, colours and styles - the company produces 100 new pieces a month. Of these, it only moves to protect two prints and two style items, or one print and three items, each month.
It is likely, given the bulk of its creative output, that budget restricts Finders Keepers from registering everything in their collection.
However, they understand the value of what they do protect: ‘There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your designs being copied and sold for half the price,’ says Kate Anderson, Head Designer of Finders Keepers.
Finders Keepers is based in Adelaide and falls under the Australian Fashion Labels umbrella. They also produce the label Cameo. Focusing on affordable, fast fashion with great design and on-trend pieces, the label provides attainable high street designs in quality on-trend shapes and fabrics.
Finders Keepers is stocked in some of the most prestigious retailers worldwide including Harrods, Top Shop and David Jones.
The logo and brand
Kate says the company registered its logo and brand as trade marks since the label’s s launch in 2010. The company registered its trade mark under a number of classes - in both goods and services classes which cover clothing, footwear, headgear, advertising, business management and administration and office functions.
This allows the label to distinguish its goods and services from other fashion traders in a crowded and competitive market place.
In any of the 11 collections that Finders Keepers produce annually each collection will have a print, shape or texture distinct to its label and style.
Design registration allows a business to protect the appearance of its new and distinctive product. A design can refer to the features of shape, pattern or ornamentation which give a product a unique appearance.
Kate noted it’s their new designs that make Australian Fashion Labels different to other fashion companies in Australia.
‘You know, new prints, new fabrics; we develop our own fabrics and prints so we always have exclusive pieces in every range. That’s what stands us out in the crowd.’
Unsurprisingly, it’s what makes the label stand out that also attracts its copy cats. Kate explained this is a ‘huge problem’ and the reason behind the company’s decision to register its designs - to discourage knockoffs and protect its unique and exclusive prints.
‘We are also registering our prints because they are exclusive to us every month. We do find that is a big problem.’
Design registration protects designs which have an industrial or commercial use. A registered design gives you, the owner, in this case, Finders Keepers, exclusive rights to commercially use, licence or sell it.
‘We use Style Site, which is an online trend forecasting website. This is really helpful, and it has all the major fashion shows from around the world. They also do footwear trending and hair and makeup which is really helpful for us. We spend a lot of time on blogs, and also going through magazines and that kind of thing. Also, street style is very important for us: seeing how people from everywhere around the world put outfits together.’
‘I think every case is different and every brand works differently. It is a lengthy and costly process, but I think there is a time when you do have to stick up for yourself and for what you are producing.’
Below: Fabrics registered by Australian Fashion Labels Pty Ltd - owners of Finders Keepers.
Kate's interview (audio):