Textile patents are a legal solution for protecting your rights to your textiles.

History of Textiles

It is the belief of many historians that textiles have been used as far back as the Paleolithic Era. For hundreds of years after the origin of textiles, the most common material used was raw wool, which was easily grown and could quickly be transformed into cloth. Early production of textiles was performed on a small scale because of the intense labor requirements. In villages throughout Europe, it was common for cloth to be produced in a weaver's cottage.

Textile production became easier and easier, and upon the advent of the Industrial Revolution, large scale textile production exploded in Europe.

Some of the key inventions that led to the proliferation of textile production includes:

  • The flying shuttle.
  • The steam engine.
  • The spinning jenny.

Thanks to an increase in mechanization, textiles flourished across the world in the 19th century. In Texas, for instance, many mills found a high level of success.

Textiles and Intellectual Property

Both businesses and people have made innovations in the textile industry that constitute as intellectual property, and may be protected using textile patents.

For example, if an inventor improves the process of a sewing machine, or invents a brand-new type of weaving machine, they should consider protecting their invention with a patent. If their patent is improved, their new textile invention will be protected for twenty years and they will retain exclusive rights to its use.

An inventor may also be able to patent the formula for a day. In 1865, for instance, an inventor was able to patent his formula for mauve fabric dye. A trademark registration or patent protection may be used for the invention of a new type of synthetic fiber. When it comes to fabric designs, copyright registration may be a good idea. However, to receive a copyright, the design of your fabric must be nonfunctional and novel.

Industrial Innovation: Industrial Textiles

There have been 48,111 patent applications and 14,743 patents granted in the Industrial Textiles Industry. Based only on the number of patent applications, Japan and the USA are two of the world's largest textile markets.

Most of the patents for industrial textiles are layered products, which are products created using very complex chemical compounds. It is estimated that for every 3.263 textile patents submitted, only one is granted, which is a ratio of 0.306. Japan has the most textile patents, with a total of 36,000. The United states is second with 3,450 patents.

Industrial Innovation: Textiles – Apparel Clothing

There have been 731 approved patents and 2,459 applications in the Consumer Textiles Industry. As with industrial textiles, Japan and the USA are the two largest markets for commercial textiles based on the number of patent applications. Most of the commercial textile applications are for layered products such as shirts, linens, handkerchiefs, and garments. The approval ratio for commercial textile patents is 0.297, with one approved patent or every 3.364 applications. Japan holds 1,613 commercial textile patents, the most in the world. Again, the United States is second with 236 patents.

Trademarks, Copyrights, Design Patents and Fabric Designs

Fabric design has existed for countless years. While the method for creating these designs has changed over time, the purpose of these designs remains the same.

Some of the reasons to create designs in fabric includes:

  • Decoration or ornamentation.
  • Expressions of identity.
  • Providing people with information.

The use of a fabric design will determine what form of intellectual property protection can be used. It will also affect how long it takes to secure protection, the length of the protection, and how the intellectual property rights will be enforced.

Copyright law, for example, provides protection for original works that are being expressed in a physical medium. While this may seem like it would apply to fabric designs, copyrights cannot be used for useful products, which would include clothing used for functions such as protection and warmth.

If you use a design on fabric intended for clothing, it may be possible to obtain a copyright if the fabric is original and nonfunctional. Most fabric designs will be protected using trademarks, which are meant to defend a good or service's branding. However, to protect your design, you will need to prove that it has a secondary meaning.

If you need help applying for textile patents, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.