How to Copyright Clothing Designs? Steps to Know

How to Copyright Clothing Designs? Steps to Know

We’ll go over the main procedures you may use to file for registration and legal protection of your original creative work, as well as point out resources you may find helpful.

Protecting intellectual property rights is important, and you don’t have to be an expert in law to understand that. Big businesses like Disney go to great lengths to protect their intellectual property.

You should still take precautions to protect your intellectual property even if you aren’t making billions by selling t-shirts that have been specially made for wholesale and are decorated with your own designs. But how can one copy clothing designs legally?

In this article, we will know how we can copyright literary work and the different aspects of designs in clothing.

Following are the steps involved in copyrighting clothing designs

  • Verify whether your logo or decoration is protected by copyright. You must have designed the logo or decoration if it was a decoration, and it must have taken a lot of thought and effort on your part to design. Furthermore, ensure that your logo or decoration is unique and has not been copied by someone else
  • The US Copyright Office website has a copyright application that you can fill out. Both your contact information and the details of the logo you want to have copyrighted must be entered. It is far less expensive to submit an application online rather than by mail
  • Fill out any preferred payment form to submit the sitting fee.
  • To the US Copyright Office at the address provided on the form, send two hard copies of your logo. Even when filing electronically, this is necessary.
How to Copyright Clothing Designs? Steps to Know

Understand What Can Be Copyrighted

There are conflicting messages about whether fashion designs qualify for copyright protection. Both answers are correct, but it depends on the situation. Some experts would say “no,” while others would say “yes.”

Everything depends on your definition of “fashion designs.” There are numerous meanings for a fashion designer. Sketches might be subject. It might allude to a distinguishing shade, material, or other features. Let’s have a look at the different elements of fashion and the nature of copyright.

[Further Reading: How Much Does It Cost to Patent a Clothing Design?]


Copyright protection does not extend to colors. Therefore, copyright is not the best option if the aspect of your fashion design that you want to protect is a signature color or a distinctive color palette. You still have options for safeguarding your intellectual property, though. In these situations, trademark protection may be available.


If you create original sketches of your designs, those sketches are protected by copyright law. Nobody is permitted to reproduce, transfer, publicly display, etc., according to this. your sketch without your permission.

However, ideas are not covered by copyright; only original expression is. So, because the protection is in the drawing itself, not the underlying idea, it does not necessarily prevent others from creating fashions that resemble your sketch.

How to Copyright Clothing Designs? Steps to Know


It is well known that Copyright does not cover how design elements are divided up and assembled. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands that copyright gives “no right to prohibit any person from manufacturing clothing of identical shape, cut, and dimensions.”

This does not, however, prevent you from looking into other possibilities. Your creation might be safe with a design patent. A design patent, as opposed to a copyright, can aid in preventing others from creating clothing that resembles your sketch.

Designing Graphics

In the same way that it protects designs on canvases or papers, copyright law also protects designs on clothing.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands that “two-dimensional designs appearing on the surface of clothing,” including “combinations, positionings, and arrangements” of shapes, colors, lines, and other elements, are covered by copyright.

Design of Textiles

A producer of fabrics can rely on copyright to protect “designs imprinted in or on fabric- if the design contains a sufficient amount of creative expression.”

More about clothing design:

We have covered the system and procedure for copyright protection for clothing and fashion apparel in great detail in this article.

By copyrighting your creations, you can ensure that if they are stolen, you will have legal recourse. If you have registered copyrights, you can file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, seek monetary damages, and compel the other person or company to stop using your intellectual property for their own gain.


Are Clothing Images Copyrighted?

Generally speaking, reproducing a photograph on a tee shirt without the copyright owner’s permission is illegal copyright infringement. Depending on the laws in your country, selling the t-shirt without the celebrity’s permission may also be considered a violation of their personality rights.

Can I Put Any Picture on a Shirt and Sell It?

You can print anything on a t-shirt that is under the public domain without infringing copyright laws. Artworks whose copyright has expired are included in the public domain.

Can I Design a Shirt on Canva and Sell It?

Yes, as long as you stick to the Permitted Uses when you’re using our Content (see Details can be found in Section 5 of our Content License Agreement. For instance, you are permitted to charge for the use of your design on printed goods like tote bags, posters, stickers, and t-shirts.

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