Copyright & Designs Faqs

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Common Questions on Copyright & Registered Designs


The appearance of a product or a product part, in either two- or three-dimensional form, be it an industrial item or a structure, can be protected as a design . A product includes parts of a complex product, packaging and typographic typefaces, but excludes computer programs. This product appearance may result from shapes, lines, contours, colours, textures, structures, materials, or ornamentation. Shapes of food packages, designs for watches, jewellery, tools, furniture, footwear, or clothes can be protected as designs.
A design can be protected if it is new and has individual character. It is considered new if no identical design was made available to the public before the unregistered design was first disclosed, or before the filing or priority date of the registered design. Designs are deemed to be identical if their features differ only in immaterial details. A design can be made publicly available by entering it into the channels of commerce, publishing the design, or exhibiting the design so that it becomes known in the normal course of business to the sectors concerned. When assessing novelty and individual character, a disclosure shall not be taken into consideration if the designer or his successor in title has made a design available to the public during the 12-month period preceding the date of filing of the application or the date of priority.
We have associates who offer manufacturing support for products which will be made in China / Taiwan. They will sign your NDA's, and get the manufacturers to also sign NDA's prior to supply of any commercially sensitive information / technical drawings. However, we recommend applying for a Registered Design and a China's Design Patent. The NDA will be testament that the a manufacturer agrees that any IPR arising out of the manufacturing will be yours, while the Registered Design and Design Patent will give you exclusive rights to the particular design. If your product has a sizeable market across the world, you may find it useful to apply for an International Design. We have expertise in Design registration and can help you with these steps. Contact us here to speak to our International and European Design Attorneys.
While there are still many people who do not understand the importance of IP protection, it does help (especially for a new product), for a maker / owner to secure IP protection in the relevant jurisdiction in which the goods will be made and sold, or if your budget does not allow, atleast where they will be sold. So having a registered design (UK) or Registered Community Design (RCD) in place would have meant that in such circumstances, where there is clearly an aspect of copying, one can bring infringement proceedings before the Patents County Court (which has a low cost streamlined procedure for IP infringement cases) quickly and present evidence of registration. For registered Designs, the onus is on the defendant (infringer) to prove they did not copy, and their actions were innocent. Further, one can instruct customs to confiscate/block any infringing products from entering the relevant jurisdiction, and in the case of a Registered Community Design, it means that the Design protection will protect the product in the whole EU. Similarly, if copying of an article that is protected by an RCD does occur, the unauthorised maker/ importer can be the subject of RCD Infringement proceedings. If the product is a functional product, and the protectable elements of it are novel functional features, it is highly recommended to also seek patent protection.
Generally, copyright protects several categories of works including but not limited to literary works (e.g. books, newspaper articles, computer software or code),dramatic works,musical works, artistic works ( e.g. paintings, sculptures, logos), film or sound recordings, broadcasts and some types of databases. There are many overlaps in these categories, especially when considered in light of emerging technologies. To this effect, there has for some time been an ongoing debate in the IP community, as to whether the current framework of copyright is sufficient in the digital age of online music, peer-to-peer file sharing and online networking. At Mancunium IP we advise on all aspects of copyright protection covering the UK, Europe, US and other parts of the world.
There is no statutory requirement for registration of copyright in the UK, although it is common for copyright owners to lodge their work with an IP Management company, a Patent attorney or even a bank. However, this in itself does not prove that a work is original or one's own creation. Instead, it may be useful in indicating to a court that the work was in your possession at a particular date.
You may make one electronic or print copy for your own private study or research in line with the fair dealing limits or exceptions in UK law which allow you to copy protected material without the prior permission of the copyright owner. This ‘fair dealing’ exception allows for a single copy for personal use, private study or research. The law does not specify the amount which can be copied but it is usually understood to mean one article from a journal issue, a chapter, or up to 5% of a book. For websites you must check the site’s terms and conditions to acertain what it says about copyright in the text, images or videos and whether copying further than this is allowed. If you are creating your own website, then you should try to express your ideas in your own words because adapting another site’s website may be found to be a breach of Copyright. Refrain from using frames or other forms of displaying third party contyent in a way which may suggest that someone else’s work is your own work. If a piece of work has a Free to Use notice, or is shared under a GNU General Public License (a widely used free software license, which guarantees end users the freedom to run, study, share and modify the software), then make sure that if the author requires attribution, you duly attribute the work to its creator.

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