Creative faux pas: 5 tips from fashion lawyer Sumaiya De’Mar on protecting your work

If you’re a creative professional you’ll be well practised in the cyclical process of conceptualising, creating and selling your ideas. Yet with any business – creative or non – there are also legalities to be aware of and these should filter into how you conduct your day-to-day operations. Rather than leaving the legal side of things on the back burner until you see your design with someone else’s label on it (yikes!), understanding the nature of business is important to ensure you’re not getting ripped off or committing creative faux pas. In an effort to help you do just that, we caught up with fashion lawyer Sumaiya De’Mar who detailed 5 important things that every creative entrepreneur should know.

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1. Say no to copycats

When meeting with an existing or potential client, before you start pitching your newest brainwave or gorgeous design get them to sign a Confidentiality Agreement. This way they can’t steal your ideas and make them their own.

2. Understand the types of Intellectual Property

Understanding legal jargon is important for any entrepreneur or creative professional. This will ensure that you know what affects you. Intellectual Property is a person’s original idea or thought, it protects people’s right to own their creative products.

Trademarks protect the marketing aspects of a business, from the business name to the logo.

Patents protect new technology, inventions and innovation.

Copyright protects the original works conceptualised and made by creatives.

Registered Design protects the creative aspect of the design, as long as it’s new and original.

3. Ideas cannot be protected

As the creator, you don’t have to necessarily register your work as long as you have an original work which is tangible, such as a painting. Make sure you produce your work and this way it won’t get reproduced or published without your permission.

4. Handling copyright infringement

The courts are your friend when it comes to any copyright infringement. You can get a court interdict and claim your works back, as well claim for damages or reasonable royalties for your intellectual property.

5. Always credit the source

If you make use of someone else’s work then make sure you credit the original source and give credit where credit is due.

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Get in touch with Sumaiya through her website.

Photographs by Thato Sehlabela.

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