Once regarded as the unbeloved child of IP protection, design is now experiencing a coming of age. While patents and trademarks used to be the essential way of IP protection, the number of global registrations has skyrocketed over the past few years, since companies have become aware of the benefits of designs in their own IP portfolio – benefits that patents and trademarks cannot offer. Companies that seek to sustainably protect their innovations and products need to consider a wider scope of protection.
The increase in design applications can be best explained with the globalization of markets, shortened product life cycles and the role of e-Commerce. Being a cheaper and faster (6-9 months of registration period) alternative to patents and trademarks, designs offer both cost advantages and increased flexibility – a decisive aspect especially for SMEs. When it comes to the fight against counterfeiting, designs can turn out to be of great value. For instance, the practices of counterfeiters have reached a new high and become so sophisticated that forgers export their counterfeits and logos separately to then re-join them after arrival to avoid trademark infringements. With a design registration at hand, original manufactures can outsmart counterfeiters and take legal actions against design infringement.
China plays a leading role in filing designs, at home and abroad. Chinese companies have started to acknowledge the benefits of designs as part of the IP portfolio, resulting in a wave of filings at the Chinese Patent Office (SIPO). Non-Chinese companies, with or without having entered the Chinese market, need to register the designs of their products in China because such protection rights will be a helpful weapon when fighting counterfeiters. For example, if counterfeiters on online shopping platforms such as Alibaba, Taobao and Co. deliberately present fake goods without the respective trademark, the original manufacturers can still defend their intellectual property right if they have registered the design for their products. However, when filing designs in China, Western manufacturers will be confronted with major differences in the filing process. Contact CHINABRAND CONSULTING on how you can protect your IP in China.
Design application by Huawei Technologies Co., LTD; Source: WIPO