Or better yet, what do the fashion and dining industries have in common?
Neither has traditionally been protected via IP laws.
Yet while conventional wisdom suggests that IP regimes are a necessary condition for both invention and innovation, the fashion and dining industries thrive and expand each year.
At least, that is until the political class has its way.
Recently Senator Schumer of New York has proposed legislation that would “extend copyright protection to the fashion industry.”
And as argued by Kal Raustiala, the unintended consequence of this legislation could ironically stifle and ultimately destroy the “trendiness” that propels the industry.
As a side tangent, the discussion on IP rights of using specific ingredients, clothing materials and designs is reminiscent to the debate on open-source software. There is nothing un-libertarian about trade secrets, as libertarianism is agnostic on these matters. However, libertarianism would object to the use of coercion to ban the sale of reverse-engineered products. After all, who can own the concept of a pepperoni pizza, bell-bottom jeans, or for that matter, a calculator?