Stopping copycats does not mean depriving bargain buyers of fashionable clothes. What would the Forever 21s of the world do if they had to contend with the squint rule? They would have to become inspired-bys. Perhaps they would shift to the kinds of high-low collaborations that work for stores like H&M with Matthew Williamson and Target with Alexander McQueen. We may miss the easy availability of knockoffs. But we'd be trading it for better, broader design choice.
C. Scott Hemphill, a law professor at Columbia, and Jeannie Suk, a law professor at Harvard, are coauthors of an article out this month in Stanford Law Review, The Law, Culture, and Economics of Fashion.