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Res Ipsa Loquitur*

Fortune Small Business magazine reporter Maggie Overfelt recently called Counterfeit Chic to ask a simple question:  What happens when, as in the U.S., fashion design piracy is legal? 

Our conversation was interesting and wide-ranging -- thanks for the quotes, Maggie! -- but ultimately, as a lawyer might say, *"the thing speaks for itself":

A few weeks after clothing label Foley + Corinna debuted its spring 2007 collection, co-founder Anna Corinna received a phone call from one of her store employees.

A good customer had recently visited the designer's New York City store and dropped more than $1,200 on four silk dresses for her bridesmaids to wear in her upcoming wedding. Distraught, the bride-to-be said that she had just seen "the same dress" in the window of a discount fashion clothing chain. There, the dress - a polyester replica with identical coloring, cut, and flower design - was selling for $40.

"She returned the dresses," says Corinna, 35. "When one of our designs gets knocked off, the dress is cheapened - customers won't touch it."

Foley+Corinna dress (left) and Forever 21 copy

(Note:  In the example pictured, copyright law might protect the printed fabric, but copyright never applies to the underlying design.)