Using IPRs to Protect Niches? Evidence from the Indian Textile and Apparel Industry

In the fiercely competitive global environment that has prevailed since the removal of (MFA) quotas in 2005, many textile and apparel suppliers have sought to compete by forming and protecting niches. Building competence in design, branding and retail distribution has been an important part of this strategy. With the growing importance of creative content in the volatile and rapidly transforming market for textiles and apparel, new questions have
arisen about the role of exclusivity-granting tools such as intellectual property rights in sectors such as T&A, where exclusivity has traditionally been limited or thought to be unviable. The case for or against IP rights in this fast-moving, labor-intensive sector is not well understood and deeply under-researched. This paper focuses on the Indian T&A sector and on non-patent IP rights, such as trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights, and geographical indication as well as informal protections to examine whether and to what extent Indian suppliers use some form of IP protection to create and capture value in their nascent brand development and upgrading efforts. Does the
shift to own brands and own designs (OBM and ODM manufacturing) demand stronger IP rights? What is the industry’s view on this and how does it relate to market access and the industry’s upgrading prospects?