The ‘Trunki’ Case Causes Concern Amongst The Design Community
With brands such as Trunki losing their infringement case, naturally British designers are anxious about their rights. Find out how to protect your designs.
Great designs are rarely achieved in a single afternoon, often they evolve over a period of time until the designer and the customer reach a point where they’re happy with the end result. Whether your design is a brand logo, a product prototype or a marketing idea, it is essential that your intellectual property is protected and cannot be snapped up by others.
High-Profile Design Law Suit
Take the recent court case of Trunki for instance. In 2004, the company created a product which revolutionised the way in which parents traveled with their children. These ride-on animal suitcases can be used as hand luggage, but they also make the perfect seat for tired and weary legs that need to wait in long airport lines. So, imagine the dismay when Trunki realised they had a competitor in the form of Kiddee who launched much later in 2013, yet manufacture a very similar animal suitcase product. Despite going to court, a high-profile case found that Kiddee had not infringed on the copyright of Trunki and both are entitled to continue selling their products. Such a result has sent shockwaves throughout the design community and naturally, there is a concern about how designers are able to protect their creations.
It’s essential that graphic designers are able to prove the development of their ideas with specific focus on the timeline of when they were conceived. Anything that is done digitally should be copied and stored onto USB and saved in the cloud. But designers who work off-screen, perhaps developing hand-drawn sketches, should timestamp absolutely every scrap of paper that has played some part in the evolution of a design. You can then choose to either deposit these with a bank or solicitor who will keep a record of the time and date that this appointment occurred. Alternatively, you can mail photocopies of these papers to yourself, being careful not to open the package or tamper with it in any way. The timestamp provided by Royal Mail will be enough to offer proof of the date. This is an essential step which will offer clear evidence in the event that you are involved in a court case at some point.
Unregistered Or Registered Design
There are two options for you to use to protect your design. It’s important to note that these are not relevant when looking to register an invention – you’ll need a patent for this instead. If your design is original and formed entirely of your own work, and is non-commonplace then you will automatically be given unregistered design rights which protect you for up to 15 years within the UK.
Alternatively, if you would prefer the more official route of applying for a registered design, you must also ensure that you have not incorporated anything offensive into the design, and it shouldn’t include protected flags and emblems such as the Royal Crown or the Olympic rings. The process of applying for a registered design takes up to a month but will protect you for 25 years within the UK, subject to renewal after each set of five years. If you suspect that any type of infringement against your design has taken place, it’s essential that you seek professional advice and be prepared to go to court if necessary.