Protecting Fashion Intellectual Property

By Lindelwa Masuku

Sandi Mazibuko is a rising star in the South African fashion design scene with a unique aesthetic inspired by her culture and heritage, she creates bold, colourful pieces that make a statement.

However, despite her success, Sandi has struggled to protect her intellectual property in the form of her designs and prints—counterfeit versions of her work have flooded the market, making it difficult for her to mass produce and sell her clothing. She is not alone in this struggle—many fashion designers face the same challenges when it comes to protecting their creative work.
As a fashion designer, Sandi's work is her livelihood. She pours her heart and soul into every piece she creates,

“The FabroSanz Nguni Print Collection is not just fashion, it is the adornment of everything that makes us who we are — our culture and heritage,” says Sandi.
The thought of others profiting off of her hard work is incredibly frustrating. Despite her best efforts, counterfeit versions of her designs have found their way onto the market, being sold at a fraction of the cost of her authentic clothing. This not only harms her bottom line but also dilutes the value of her brand. Sandi's story is not unique in the fashion industry. Many designers struggle to protect their intellectual property, especially when it comes to designs and prints. It's a difficult task to police the market for counterfeit items, and even when the issue is brought to the attention of authorities, it can be hard to take action.
However, there are legal avenues available to designers to protect their work. The Designs Act of 1993 in South Africa allows for registered designs to be protected for 15 years. This means that anyone who reproduces or sells a product that is identical or substantially similar to a registered design without the consent of the designer can be held liable. It's an important step for designers like Sandi to take to safeguard their work. 

But registering a design is just the first step. It can be a long and difficult process, and even once a design is registered, it can be hard to enforce the rights. This is where the role of fashion industry organisations comes into play, by providing designers with the resources and support to navigate the legal system, and educating the public about the importance of protecting intellectual property in the fashion industry.
Future prospects
The future is looking bright for fashion designers like Sandi. There is a growing awareness of the importance of protecting creative work, and organisations are working to provide designers with the tools they need to safeguard their intellectual property. Sandi continues to create her work and designs, through her fashion house, House of FabroSanz, and continues to educate people about the importance of preserving traditional heritage in the fashion industry, giving her customers a chance to experience authentic and original prints.
Her collections are a great inspiration for other local designers to showcase their work, and to educate the public about the unique and valuable contributions that the fashion industry makes to our culture and economy. With the support of the community and the fashion industry, designers like Sandi can continue to create beautiful, meaningful work, and secure the recognition and respect that their work deserves.
Her mesmerising designs and collections can be found at House of FabroSanz in Nelson Mandela Square and online at, her work can also be seen on their social media platforms; House of FabroSanz (@fabrosanz).

Article Tags

Nguni Print

Intellectual property

Creative Rights


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