This is a guest article by Samuel Jesse McCown, the man behind the new and outstanding blog, GrÃ¡fica Real.
Recently I was involved in a project with a team of industrial designers, graphics designers and myself in which we collectively had to design a product and branding package for a fictional social entrepreneurial company which required many types of intellectual property including a trademark, a copyright, and a patent.
I was always aware of IP although the lines were a little blurred when it came to the finer details and variations between the different options available. It is important to know the rights you have or may be infringing when working on a project so I have put together a brief run through of the main areas of IP you may be required to be knowledgeable in, when working as a designer.
A trademark can be a letter, number, word, phrase, sounds, smell, slogan, logo, picture, aspect of packaging or any combination of these.
Trademarks are used to distinguish goods and services of one trade from those of another. You don’t have to register your trade mark to use it however registration is advisable because it can be an expensive and time consuming exercise to take action under common law.
A registered trade mark gives you exclusive legal rights to use, license or sell it within your country (laws vary within countries) for the goods and services for which it is registered.
Example: Cadbury Schweppes have a trademark on their specific purple colour.
Registered Design refers to the configuration, pattern, or ornamentation which when applied to a product gives the product a unique appearance. You can register a design but it must be new and distinctive.
Example: The Coca Cola bottle, even without any text or branding was recently registered in Japan being the first of its kind.
Design copyright protects the original expression of ideas not the ideas themselves. It is free and automatically safeguards your original works of arts and literature, music, film, sound, recording, broadcast, computer programs from copying and other uses.
In Australia, copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act 1958 and is administered by the office of the Attorney General. It gives exclusive rights to license others in regard to copyrighting the work, performing it in public, broadcasting etc.
You may also be interested in Copyright Issues in Logo Design & Typography.
Example: The specific character, and material relating to Batman is protected under copyright.
A patent is a right granted for any device, substance, method, process which is new inventive and useful. Patents are legally enforceable and gives the owner the exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention for the life of the patent. The innovation patent is a protection option which is designed to protect inventions that are not sufficiently inventive.
Example: The Ipod range is protected under a patent.
Source: Professor Scott Whiteside – Swinburne University
Have you got any more copyright, patent or trademark knowledge? Please share with us in the comments below.