Fashion Ordinances: Monopoly

My goals for the duration of my assignment were to both learn more about my topic of interest and also learn to better decipher things like public records, court records, and federal ordinances and determine the credibility of each individual source that offers the information. My topic is fashion within media and the document that I found is one of the original court cases in a battle between fashion designers and legislation that is still in progress today. It is a case from 1941 called Fashion Originators’ Guild of America v. Federal Trade Commission 312 U.S. 457. This was a great case for me to find because it interests me very much personally and gave me a better understanding for evaluating concepts like monopoly.

I found my ordinance in a rather simple way. Primarily, I tried both usa.gov and data.gov, but after little luck with such broad and government driven databases I thought to simply google my topic along with the words “public record”, “ordinance” or “regulation” to see what type of results I would get and if they would be official enough to use for my journal before I sought out alternate paths for finding the information. Luckily, when I used google to search fashion with laws and ordinances, I found a very interesting debate concerning whether or not fashion designs should be able to hold copyright so that competitors cannot copy them. Here is a link to a results page of one of my initial searches: http://goo.gl/LR7WeV. After reading a few of the blogs and articles that my initial search acquired, I used that information to search for the individual copyright cases. Here is a link to those searches via google: http://goo.gl/YNfQGV. This search led me to find documents concerning the individual court case, which is Fashion Originators’ Guild of America v. FTC – 312 U.S. 457.

From this document I learned that in the earlier days of clothing manufacturing during the 1930’s, an organization existed called the Fashion Originators’ Guild of America. This organization petitioned and boycotted stores that sold copies or “knock-offs” of the clothes that members of their guild had originally designed. This doesn’t seem like a large problem, but the Guild consisted of manufacturers and designers that created around 60% of the clothing designed in America sold for $10.75 and up.

Eventually the Federal Trade Commission called a cease and desist against the Guild, and this court case was a challenge to the FTC’s ruling. The case made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which is mildly surprising seeming how the case is about something as simple as clothing.

On March 3, 1941 the Supreme Court held the decision to side with the FTC, and the Fashion Originators’ Guild of America was disbanded. The Supreme Court’s decision was based upon the Guild’s violation of prior legislature like the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), which rules “trusts” or anti-competitive monopolies, to be illegal and inconducive to free enterprise.

I originally picked this source as one that is credible because the website it is posted on not only is a “.org” site, but also is a website dedicated solely to resources like public documents and legal ordinances. The website is run by a parent website called public.resource.org which houses many, many free legal and public resources. A way this resource could be more credible is if its citations were accessible to the reader. Many of the citations are citing other often old legal documents that aren’t accessible via the site. This document contributed to my understanding of my topic by showing me that even seventy years ago before fashion commerce was the powerhouse it was today, people were still joining together to try to protect their artistic rights. This court case has opened up my mind to a whole new legal issue of my topic that I wasn’t aware existed, so it definitely has caused me to research further and form new opinions.

 

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