Design versus knockoffs
“LOOKS Are Deceiving for a Reason” [July 20] went a long way toward helping educate designers, manufacturers and the public about pirated designs. The article highlighted the important role copyright laws play in protecting original work as well as designers’ profits. But a bill currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives could change those laws and make it easier for copycats to steal and profit from original design.
H.R. 5439, the Orphan Works Act of 2006, gives competitors, customers and anyone else the right to use original designs for profit after only a cursory search for the rightful copyright owner. Victimized companies would face incredible barriers to stopping infringement and to recovering damages, which would be far less than are currently mandated by the Copyright Act.
By impeding development of unique home furnishings (designers and the companies that hire them may well ask, why spend time, money and energy creating something that someone else will profit from?) this act could limit consumers’ choices to either shabby knockoffs or extremely expensive home couture pieces.
GERALD W. PUSCHEL
Puschel is the chief executive and president of F. Schumacher & Co.