In the United States there is little protection for clothing designs, but there is protection for prints and fabric designs used on clothing. So, that floral print on your button up shirt, or holiday theme on your favorite Christmas sweater may just be protected. What’s protected is the arrangement of the graphic and not the theme. This means that the general idea of floral prints and holiday themes is not protected; rather the specific “expression” of a particular floral print or holiday theme is protected. Distinctive expressions typically enjoy more protection.
So, if you ever find that perfect combination of reindeer and snowflakes that you’re cashing in on, registered copyright protection is worth looking into.
For the over-achievers: L.A. Printex Indus., Inc. v. Aeropostale, Inc., 676 F.3d 841 (2012); Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs Ltd. (Inc.), 71 F.3d 996 (1995) – These are a couple of nasty fights which address copyrights in print designs for clothing