Wearable Tech needs more Women but less IP protection?

by lauraadrianagrinschgl

Everyday we receive news about the fast evolving fashion tech space.

“Amazon selling its own clothes actually makes a lot of sense” (Wired), “Apple shipped 11.6 Million Apple Watches in 2015, says IDC” (Fast Company), “Is 3D Printing the next industrial Revolution?”(TechCrunch), “Ferragamo to Microchip shoes and bags” (Vogue UK).[1]

This shows that we are experiencing an extraordinary period of transformation through convergence of disciples like fashion and technology. But one thing continues to be a concerning problem. The lack of female participation in engineering and technology has crucial effects on the possibility to understand and engage consumers as well as for further innovation.[2]

“ Women should be the creators, not just the consumers, of our increasingly digital future. ”                                             

                                                                                                            – Rebecca Minkoff

The good news is that there is currently a big deal of money and time invested in programmes, created to empower young women to pursue a career in technology.

An overview on the leading ladies in the world of wearables can he found here:

But as much as the Fashion – Tech Revolution needs more women, does it also need broad IP protection?

Wearable technology comes to the market at a fast pace and whether the application is for health and medicine or sports and fitness, companies will want to protect their intellectual property. Companies need to look at the IP inside and outside the wearable technology device, for each component, appearance, method step, functionality and all content.[3]

The question to keep in mind is: is IP protection actually a good solution?

Taking the Piracy Paradox into account, which is heavily discussed in the fashion industry, too much protection can also have its downsides.

The piracy paradox is the idea that the lack of IP rights for fashion design actually helps the fashion industry because it accelerates the diffusion of designs and styles which allows for a shorter trend cycle. This causes consumers to purchase more than is needed to stay up to date, which benefits designers and the fashion industry as a whole [4]

The Piracy Paradox however, is definitely something to be critical about and for now, wearable technologies are protected by utility patents (for the technology part), registered designs (for example sleeves will need to be tailored a certain way to hold wires, handbag redesigned to accommodate circuit boards, glasses made to hold lasers and so on) and a bit of copyright and trademark law protection for the data and the brand reputation.[5]

The future will show wearable tech`s full potential and the extraordinary possibilities coming with it, as well as the amount of protection needed.[6]

Last but not least – Happy belated (tech) women’s day!


Laura Adriana Grinschgl

Assistant Editor QMJIP


[1] http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/bits-bytes/bits-bytes-amazon-clothes-apple-watch-shipments-souq-com-funding

[2] http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/opinion/op-ed-the-fashion-tech-revolution-needs-more-women

[3] R S Berman, ‘Intellectual Property Law and Wearable Technologies Functional technology with style’ (3/2015) JMBM

[4] A Lucas, ‘IP Protection of Fashion Design of Wearable Technology’ (2014) IP Theory

[5] A Lucas, ‘IP Protection of Fashion Design of Wearable Technology’ (2014) IP Theory

[6] WIPO Magazine