Product Design

In an increasingly fast-moving and crowded world, ensuring your products instantly stand out from your competitors has never been more important. The value of good product design is now recognised across the creative and technological spectrum, in fields as diverse as aviation, medical technology and devices, manufacturing, digital media, furniture, consumer electronics, food & beverage and household goods, to the traditional areas of fashion and luxury good sectors.

We understand the importance of product design. We have been advising clients across the full spectrum of design rights and acting in ground-breaking design law cases for decades. Our International team comprises of over 100 IP lawyers from our 30 offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. We have acted for some of the most prominent names in the design world, many of which are household names. Our work has helped protect and enforce innovative design across a diverse range of products and sectors, including business class airline cabins, cartoon characters, eco-friendly footwear, sleep apnoea masks, nacho trays, sports watches, vaping devices, couture fashion, yoga mats and bikes. 

Maximising the value of your product design requires a coherent, tailored strategy from the outset. We utilise different rights to their full advantage, taking account of the nature of the product, the commercial objectives of the designer, the risks posed by copycats, and the likely means of subsequent enforcement.

The effective protection of innovative product design is not achieved through a single intellectual property right. It requires holistic consideration of a range of rights, including design rights, patents, copyright, trade marks as well as torts such as passing off and unfair competition. Much depends on the nature and use of the product in question and the parts of the world in protection or enforcement is required. Our team has a range of different legal and technical backgrounds and sector specialisms, so they can take a bespoke approach to helping you recognise, protect, and enforce your product design.

We can support you with both filing/design portfolio management and the enforcement (and defence) of those designs against copycats:

International design filing and design portfolio management

Choosing which designs to file, how they should be represented/illustrated, in which countries to file and in what order can be a daunting task. Unlike trade marks, there is comparatively little harmonisation of the law protecting designs from one country to another. Grace periods, deferment periods and filing formalities can all vary greatly from country to country, and understanding the rules in each matters. Whilst the Hague system allows for international applications to be made, it may not always be preferable. Our international design filing team is here to help your business devise and execute international design filing programmes which are cost-effective and suit your needs. We have assisted many household names in filing their designs throughout the world, in some cases filing in over 80 territories.

International produce design enforcement

Your ability to enforce your designs to prevent copycat products is only as good as the strength of your design portfolio. That is why our team of product design enforcement lawyers works closely alongside our design filing teams to make sure that the designs being filed have the best possible chance of being enforced. Our enforcement teams are there to act when your product design is being infringed, including by way of litigation (including preliminary injunctions), Customs seizures and online take down programmes.

We can help you at every step, from initial design concept right through to exploitation and enforcement:

  1. Identifying where in your business valuable product design is being created. Advising design teams on best practice for documenting design creation process and associated issues such as IP ownership in employment agreements, designer collaboration agreements, NDAs, etc.
  2. Advising on how best to protect your product design, using a range of different IP rights, both registered and unregistered, in any territories of interest.
  3. Conducting ‘freedom to operate’ or prior art reviews.
  4. Devising and executing cost-effective international design filing programmes, prosecuting applications through to registration (including applications under the Hague system) and defending post-grant invalidity proceedings.
  5. Enforcing your product designs to stop copycats, including acting for you in cross-border court litigation, intellectual property office proceedings, Customs seizures, and online take downs.
  6. Exploiting your product design: advising on licensing arrangements and sale of rights, and advising on advertising, marketing, supply, and distribution agreements.

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By the International Product Design Group at Bird & Bird

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'The team works very closely with the client and ensures that they fully understand its client’s needs and objectives. They are very friendly and work like an extension of our in-house legal team. The team is very knowledgeable and have access to a large international network, so that they are able to advise on IP matters in any jurisdictions we might be interested in'

Legal 500 2022

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"A very knowledgeable team on trade marks and designs. The advice is pragmatic and the team is down to earth and easy to work with"

Legal 500 UK 2021

"Bird & Bird are an important IP advisor to our company, and have run one of our most important design litigation cases with significant success. They are premier advisors in the IP field, and have strong capabilities across the IP spectrum, including clearance, portfolio management and enforcement."

Legal 500 2020

"Bird & Bird are second to none, and you know you're in safe hands. It's a well-oiled machine and they're always collaborative and very engaged."

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