DMH Stallard Team

DMH Stallard Team

Increased industry awareness about intellectual property and trade visitors eagerness to find out more about design protection and brand expansion were the main themes for discussion at the ACID stand during Interiors 2008 at the NEC last month. During the one-to-one IP clinics a whole raft of IP subjects were covered with several exhibitors contacting ACID’s on the spot Mediate to Resolve service with alleged copying complaints. These were professionally and efficiently handled by the ACID Accredited Lawyers from the DMH Stallard team, led by Sarah Birkbeck and supported by Jo Crouch.

Sarah Birkbeck said, ‘I was particularly impressed by those who seemed to have their IP house in order. One company had a Registered Design portfolio so I was able to confirm the design ownership credentials of one particular product, which the company felt had been copied. By having this evidence available I was immediately able to refer to the Registered Community Design (RCD) certificate and compare this design with the alleged copy on another stand. In this situation, I could confirm, under the recent design law ruling, that the alleged copy did not satisfy the test for infringement. The MD of that particular company was able to have the benefit of free ‘on the spot’ expert IP legal opinion which clarified his position there and then.’

In another alleged copying case, the benefit of being able to access registered community design certificates enabled the DMH Stallard team to advise on several instances where look-alikes had been discovered. Jo Crouch added, ‘There seems to be some confusion about the criteria for design protection and I think is important to note that for a design to be eligible for protection under the EU it must be ‘novel’ and have ‘distinctive character’ and, of course, be original and not copied. In short, rights are bestowed by Governments to reward design originality. Design protection is not available for products that are commonplace, however, one should not confuse ‘commonplace’ with the fact that a product which has design protection may have been copied so much that people assume that is commonplace, take the iconic Bombo stool, for example, whose owners have asserted their IP rights in many successful legal actions.

Those planning to exhibit in the future should ensure that by following some simple guidelines they can gear up their intellectual property protection by taking a few precautionary steps.

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