Emerging Design Laws And Regulations In Digital Disputes

emerging design laws patent legal regulations digital disputes

The design of a product plays a significant role in the production and marketing of goods. It is often the case that the design is the persuasive factor behind a consumer’s purchasing decision. 

As the digital revolution gathers pace at breakneck speed, disputes can arise when a company feels their intellectual property rights have been violated. 

Design laws and regulations seek to protect individuals and companies that register a design with the intellectual property office. Whilst rights may differ in various parts of the world, the general idea is to grant exclusive rights to use a patented design over a set period - typically 10 to 25 years. 

Adequate protection of products designs is also important in encouraging the creation of innovative products. 

In general, industrial design legislation works well. However, the emergence of designs in the digital landscape has underscored shortcomings in existing design laws and regulations

Design Law Faults 

Design directives are an effective tool in securing a competitive edge in the market. Existing design laws and regulations enable innovators to register products in relation to their appearance. 

Appearance is determined as physical shape, configuration and decoration. When registering a design it’s important to bear in mind the subject matter, scope of rights and limitations. 

The most famous design dispute in recent memory occurred in 2012 in the High Courts case of Apple v Samsung. The US innovators argued Samsung’s design for the Galaxy Tab copied their new iPad. Supreme Court judges in the UK ruled otherwise. 

The decision rested on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab had sufficient design differences which enabled consumers to distinguish between the two products; i.e a thin bezel in comparison to Apple’s “fat but cool” look. 

Apple claimed the front face was the most important factor as opposed to the overall design. However, the US tech giant used evidence of a registered design they had submitted in 2004 - and it did not entirely resemble the product that went to market. 

Registering Designs 

The general view of existing design laws and regulations is that they competently handle infringements of intellectual property. Given very few disputes find their way into the courts suggests this is a fair evaluation. 

However, statistics published by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) show fewer than 10% of design disputes appear in court. Most infringers will adhere to a cease and desist notice when challenged by the rightful owner of a patented design. 

The commission concluded that only large companies claim for a loss in revenue. Consequently, concerns have been raised over whether current design policy means small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are missing out. 

SMEs should consider applying for protection of your intellectual property by registering key designs as they look now and how they might look in the future. Experienced lawyers qualified in design laws and regulations can show you how to future proof intellectual property. 

Protect Patents Properly

Products are worth protecting. If your design incorporates innovative elements, owning the registered rights puts you in a stronger position should a design dispute arise that puts you at a disadvantage in the market. Patents are not expensive in comparison to substantial profit losses.

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