The Current

In the age of knock-offs, protecting original design is expensive

For as long as there have been great designs, there have been copies of great designs. From fashion to furniture to software, our project, By Design, is asking what -- if anything -- you can do to protect an original idea in an age of duplication....

For as long as there have been great designs, there have been copies of great designs. From fashion to furniture to software, our project, By Design, is asking what -- if anything -- you can do to protect an original idea in an age of duplication.  Is imitation really is the highest form of flattery or is it better described as outright "stealing"?

'This was a design that actually my sister had designed. It's a playful spouting whale design pattern and it's one of our best selling sweaters in our line up. The other sweater is a bear axe sweater so you know there's 2 standing bears on the front and then on the back there's cross hatchets or axe on the back. -Brian Hirano in Richmond, B.C. His family owns Granted Clothing. He spoke to the CBC's As It Happens'

Granted Clothing, painstakingly produces handmade sweaters. Each one takes anywhere from 15 to 25 hours to make. And they retail for about $400. But then the strangest thing happened... A line of sweaters that looked virtually the same started popping up at the big retail chain store Forever 21... for just under $50 a pop.

Mr. Hirano is currently weighing his legal options to see what he can do to protect his company's sweater designs. But the situation he's found himself in, is hardly unique. From Gucci bags to Canada Goose jackets to computer components, our consumer culture is awash in replicas and forgeries. So what can be done to protect these originals...or should we even bother to try?

11 Designer Lawsuits -- Elle

Today we explore the role of forgeries and fakes as part of our project, By Design.

Robin Kay is the Founder of Toronto Fashion Week and President of the Fashion Design Council of Canada. But before these roles, she was a fashion designer.

For a small design house like Brian Hirano's family company, taking on a big-time retailer like Forever 21 can be an intimidating endeavor. Casey Chisick is co-leader of Fashion and Entertainment Practices at the law firm Cassels Brock in Toronto.

The great wit Mark Twain once said that there's no such thing as an original thought... only new combinations of old ideas. And a little borrowing, remixing, and paying homage has surely been an essential part of how design evolves... But some would say that today's consumer culture has gone farther than ever in celebrating the copycat.

Michael Prokopow is an associate dean and a professor at OCAD University where he teaches a course on the history of objects.

Some counterfeit products making news:

Canada Goose Parkas

Cisco Systems Inc.

NHL Winter Classic Products

Prescription Pills in Prince County

Are you happy to pay less for a knock-off that looks like the original?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Sarah Grant.

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