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Governing Sustainable Fashion through Intellectual Property Assets: Unveiling the Realities Behind Trade Marks and Eco-Claims

As public interest in sustainable fashion soars, trade marks have emerged as pivotal players in advocating eco-friendly products and fostering consumer confidence.

For instance, PRADA's "Re-Nylon" trademark champions a collection crafted from ECONYL, a regenerated-nylon yarn, while fast-fashion titan H&M relies on "CONSCIOUS" to highlight products made from recycled or organic materials.

These intellectual property assets serve as conduits for transmitting crucial information about "credence attributes," empowering consumers to choose products aligning not just with their practical preferences but also their values. Yet, an overlooked aspect pertains to the association with sustainability commitments. The information conveyed isn't impartial; it's framed by brands and could potentially be contested.

The risks are starkly outlined in a January 2021 report by the European Commission, revealing that 42% of green claims made by garment, cosmetics, and household companies are either "exaggerated, false, or deceptive." Shockingly, in 59% of cases, these claims lack supporting evidence.

The enduring dominance of the term "green" indicates that corporate strategies predominantly rely on green marketing principles, echoing back to the late 1980s, highlighting the positive association between eco-friendly imagery or wording in branding and consumer perceptions of a company's actions.

However, research confirms a gap between sustainable trademarks and actual corporate practices. It sheds light on a new facet of misleading communication nestled within trademarks, contributing to the need for a broader definition of greenwashing.

Let's push for transparency, genuine commitments, and regulations that ensure sustainable fashion is more than just a label.

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