Do i need to do both? My mom and i have a business where we create designs and put them onto white collar shirts, and sale them as womens blouses. So for each design, do we have to copyright each design or patent each design? What is the cheapest way to do what we need to do before getting it ready for mass production?
Without knowing more about exactly what you will be putting on your clothing, it seems unlikely that it would be patent. Patents are typically used for inventions, devices, and novel processes or methods. It might be possible you are looking for a design patent, but it is unlikely. Design patents will run you around $1,000-$2,000 to send in and about another $1,000 on the back end.
It might be possible you may need a trademark. However, bear in mind that trademarks are really for source identifiers, in other words, those designs which are meant to signify to potential customers where those products are coming from. If those designs you are putting on those blouses are the same, then perhaps a trademark registration is what you’re looking for.
The most likely idea would be a copyright. Most people don’t understand that a copyright merely protects the EXPRESSION of ideas, rather than the underlying ideas themselves. Copyrights are typically used to protect artwork such as paintings, dance choreography, photography, music, etc. And your unique designs might come into play. Of course, I am referring to the designs, rather than the blouses themselves. When it comes to fashion, one famous fashion designer, I believe Karl Lagerfeld once said that there is no justice in the fashion industry.
When it comes to price, Copyright is probably the cheapest. It is $45 for the filing fee and probably between $300-$500 in attorney’s fees.