Lots of thought-provoking accessible articles from the New York Times by Hal Varion, who is on leave from the University of California, Berkeley, and serving as Google's Chief Economist. An example is Why That Hoodie Your Son Wears Isn’t Trademarked, from which this is an excerpt.
"According to Mr. Raustiala and Mr. Sprigman, the fashion industry can survive without intellectual property protection because of two interacting factors that they refer to as 'induced obsolescence' and 'anchoring'."
"The first factor means that clothes become unfashionable before they wear out, so trendy people have to keep buying new clothes every year. When you are wearing the same thing as your cool friends, that’s great. But when you start seeing that style on decidedly uncool people, it’s time for something new — which the fashion industry is happy to provide."
"But how do the fashionable decide what the next big thing is? Or perhaps more to the point: how does the fashion industry convey to their consumers what they should be wearing? How does the industry 'anchor' the consumers in this season's fashions? This is where copying comes in. If all the designers are showing baby doll dresses in the spring of 2006, then there’s a good chance that is what everybody will be wearing by the summer of 2006."
"Mr. Raustiala and Mr. Sprigman argue that the lack of intellectual property protection actually promotes the functioning of the industry. If the extension of copyright to fashion prevented clothes manufacturers from copying each other, the industry would be ceding a major role to the lawyers and become much less creative. We’d see the same thing year after year. "