Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre died yesterday from an apparent massive brain hemorrhage. He was 62. He achieved international fame during his career at Christian Dior, where he was top designer from 1989-1996. Fashion designers work in the space between art and invention, and are not known for filing patent applications. Ferre was no exception. He received only three US design patents for a jewelry chain (D343,372), wristwatch (D294,919) and a "twin-shared pocket for a garment" (D294,651). Of course, these represent just a tiny part of his vast portfolio. His contemporaries Donantello Versace and Giorgio Armani hold 14 and 5 US design patents, respectively. I've always been curious why fashion designers such as Ferre, Armani and Versace even bother with patents in the first place. Is it their decision or their employers?
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.