05 April 2011

WIPO Day Road Show

“Designing the Future” is the theme of this year’s World Intellectual Property Day 2011. In his message, Francis Gurry, the Director General of the WIPO, said:

“Design touches every aspect of human creativity. It shapes the things we appreciate from traditional crafts to consumer electronics; from buildings and bicycles to fashion and furniture. Design has been called “intelligence made visible”.

Design is where form meets function. It determines the look and feel of the products we use each day – from everyday household items to the latest tablet computers. Design marries the practical with the pleasing. It brings style to innovation.”

In everyday language design can refer either to an object’s appearance or to the way it works. Thus, we speak of “fashion design” and “engine design”. The former is ornamental and the latter functional.

Most countries protect ornamental design by one means or another. For example, EU member states are required by art 3 (1) of Directive 98/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 on the legal protection of designs to protect by registrations designs that are new and have individual character. In the USA, patents known as “design patents” are available for new, original and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture under 35 USC 171. In the UK we protect new designs having individual character by registration in compliance with the Directive, but we also protect functional designs by an intellectual property right that is almost unique to this country known as unregistered design right. Superimposed on our national design law is EU or Community design law which provides a system of design registration for new designs having individual character known as registered Community designs and automatic short term protection against copying for designs that could be registered known as unregistered Community design. Design right protects the shape or configuration of articles or parts of articles including components and even features that cannot be discerned by the human eye. However, surface decoration is specifically excluded from design right protections. Thus, such things as the design of fabrics and wall coverings can be protected by artistic copyright, design registration or possibly even as unregistered Community designs.

Confused? “You should be” as they used to say on Soap. I shall try to demystify design law in a quick presentation consisting of me, Peter Groves and A N. Other. Together we will present a whistle-stop road show around Yorkshire to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April. We shall visit Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield at 10:00, 14:00 and 18:00 respectively. As Peter has just published his excellent Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law there may even be the odd Fat Rascal or samosa washed down by Black Sheep or sweet lassi. Gradely!

If you want to learn more about this intellectual feast contact me on 0800 862 0055 or fill in my contact form. If you are interested in intellectual property in Yorkshire generally you can also follow my IP Yorkshire blog.

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