At Bird & Bird we’re passionate about design. DesignWrites will unravel and explore the seemingly complex world of design protection, offering practical advice by looking at recent design cases, hearing from industry experts and sharing stories from the wider design community.

If you would like advice on how best to protect your designs or take action to stop copycats, please contact Ewan Grist.

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Focus on fashion – clothing design cases sashay through the UK courts

Unregistered design rights are an important IP right in the fashion industry, given that the lives
of clothing designs are often short and may not justify the cost of design registration. There has been a recent flurry of cases before the UK courts concerning rights in fashion designs, specifically unregistered design rights: G-Star Raw v Rhodi Ltd; Superdry v Animal (DKH Retail Ltd v H Young (Operations) Ltd); John Kaldor Fabricmaker UK Ltd v Lee Ann Fashions Ltd; and Dalco v First Dimension

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The increasing importance of international design registrations under the Hague system
Two of the world’s biggest economies, namely the USA and Japan, recently joined the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. For designers needing protection of their designs in more than one country particularly where protection is needed outside the EU, an International Design Registration (IR design) may be the perfect tool.
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3D printing & Intellectual Property – what you need to know

The ability to easily, quickly and cheaply design and manufacture items is no longer just a pipe dream – 3D printing is becoming part of everyday life for domestic users, independent designers and large scale manufactures alike. 3D printing offers a multitude of opportunities. Rapid prototyping, spare part production and customisation are all being revolutionised and industries ranging from fashion & luxury goods to biomedical sciences to aerospace are all taking advantage. But a myriad of intellectual property issues lurk just below the surface.
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Blocking validity in The Netherlands – minor variations of earlier designs and the thin line between practicality and mere functionality
KOZ Products is a developer of cable blocks for the wiring of cables. For many years Adinco had sold KOZ products, including the KOZ Uni blocks which were protected by four RCDs filed in 2005 and 2006. Following the end of the commercial relationship between Adinco and KOZ, Adinco started to produce its own cableblocks under the name Fox Uni. KOZ brought preliminary injunction proceedings against Adinco before the District Court of The Hague, claiming that the Fox Uni blocks infringed its registered Community designs (RCDs) and copyright and furthermore constituted an unlawful act (slavish imitation). The PI was refused and the court dismissed all of KOZ’s claims.
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UK: copyright in tableware surface designs

The case of Bodo Sperlein Ltd v (1) Sabichi Ltd and (2) Sabichi Homewares Ltd related to an allegation of copyright infringement in a tableware design called ‘Red Berry’, designed in 2001 by Mr Sperlein of Bodo Sperlein Ltd (BSL). The Red Berry collection was a signature collection of BSL. In 2013 BSL noticed that the defendants Sabichi had been selling items of tableware which BSL considered had been copied from the Red Berry design.

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General Court looks at design freedom in Argo v. OHIM

In 2010, Clapbanner filed an application for registration of an RCD for ‘advertising articles’, as show below. The designed advertising article was intended for group events. Unfolded it would be used as a signboard that conveyed a message when it was held up. Folded like an accordion it could be used to produce ‘clapping’ sound effects.
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Innovation and challenges in architectural and community design – Q&A with Hello Wood

Hello Wood is an architecture and design studio, organising projects and events defined by openness, experimenting, social sensitivity, innovation and development. It was founded by Peter Pozsar, architect / curator; Andras Huszar, architect and David Raday, media designer / art director. In September 2013, Finland established a new centralised and specialised IP court in Helsinki. It was the first country in the Nordic region to do so.

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Registered Community designs or a plastic fork found to be valid and infringed in France
In the recent case of Europlastiques v Germay Plastic, the Court of Appeal of Paris upheld the first instance decision finding the following registered Community designs (“RCDs”) for a plastic fork belonging to French company Europlastiques to be both valid and infringed.

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Lego takes action against copycat toy figures in Poland
On 5 January 2015, the court ruled in favour of LEGO Juris A/S (LEGO) in a design infringement case brought against the Polish company, Artyk sp. z o.o. (ARTYK) (case No. XXII GWwp 24/13). ARTYK imported 246 sets of toy figures alleged to infringe LEGO’s registered Community designs 128681-0004 and 128681-0002. The court ruled that, as ARTYK’s products only had different shape of the figures’ heads, they did not produce a different overall impression on the informed user.

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UK Government announces policy for extension of copyright term for industrially manufactured works
Section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 currently limits copyright protection for artistic works which have been industrially manufactured: where more than 50 copies of any such artistic works have been made by or with the licence of the copyright owner the period of copyright protection is limited to 25 years.

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Designs of the year 2015

Now in its eighth edition, the Designs of the Year awards and exhibition provide a snapshot of the most stimulating new work from around the world, across six categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport. Past winners of the Design of the Year include the One Laptop Per Child project, the 2012 Olympic Torch and the UK government’s website GOV.UK.

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Industry news
  • Designs for the future: a new wave energy device
  • Twitter launches video feature

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Upcoming industry events and awards >>

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