Thursday 18 April 2013

The importance of registered designs

Barker Brettell LLP, the patent and trade mark agents, have an item in their blog about registered designs - long the Cinderella of intellectual property - which ought to be widely read. I don't know whether providing a link to it from here will achieve that, but we can try ... The background information is particulalry interesting, I thought.

The appearance of things (articles, products, whatever the legislation sees fit to call them) is a very important aspect of their attractiveness to consumers, and registered designs are cheap and effective protection for them. Provided, of course, that the designs are novel and have individual character, which isn't all that easy when you consider how much design work has already been carried out. Worse, a registered design is the easiest sort of intellectual property to lose because it turns out to be invalid: cluttering of the trade marks registries in and of the European Union is of little significance when compared with the designs registers (although there are so few registered designs by comparison that it doesn't matter too much). But cheap ...

Termination Of Employee Refusing To Perform Copyright Infringement Was Illegal

Intrigued by an item in McDermott Will and Emery's IP update about a case in which the Texas Court of Appeals for the Second District found that an employee was wrongfully terminated from an architecture firm when he refused to engage in behaviour that he believed would expose him to liability for criminal copyright infringement. The case, if you need to know, is Young v. Nortex Foundation Designs, Case No. 02-11-00470 (Tex. App., Feb. 7, 2013). No, I haven't spent time trying to find a link for you, I'm afraid.

The case turns on the distinction between a copy of plans bearing a red stamp on the reverse, and a copy with a black stamp. The red one could be copied, the black one couldn't. Although the home-owner who instructed the architects had a red-stamped version which could have been copied, for some reason that I can't quite understand the architects only had the one with the black stamp (supplemented with dire warnings about the consequences of making copies from it). To make a copy from it would have exceeded the licence that had been granted, so the employee was held - eventually - to have been wrongly terminated when he refused to make the copy. And (subject to the proviso that I am utterly ignorant of Texas law in this respect, though I have now learnt that it is an "employment-at-will" state which sounds as if it might be a bit short of protective legislation) quite right too.

Groundless Threats - Law Commission launches consultation

The Law Commission has been busy for a year on groundless threats, but only today has it opened the consultation process to enable us all to have our say. The details are here: Patents, Trade Marks and Design Rights: Groundless Threats - Law Commission.

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