image from Balenciaga's patent application (left) & its shopper tote (right)
image from Balenciaga’s patent application (left) & its shopper tote (right)

Last week we told you that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded Alexander Wang a design patent for the metal corners that adorn his Fall 2011 handbags. The latest company to receive a patent: Balenciaga. The Paris-based design house filed a U.S. patent application in August 2011 for the “ornamental design for a handbag.” The bag: its Raffia Woven Shopper Tote joins the several other patents that Balenciaga currently holds. Because fashion designs are offered extremely limited protection via copyright law in the U.S., it seems more and more companies are relying on patents to protect themselves from design piracy.