Here is a common design problem that I think a lot of designers/companies face: you’ve got an idea in their mind that you thought is ingenious, you go onto the internet to see if there is something similar on the market, and boom…there it is – looks like somebody have thought of the idea before you. You then go: “Hmm…bummer, now what?”
In some situations, you’ll go and think of some design workarounds that somehow make your idea look somewhat different and not look like you’re trying to rip off somebody else’s idea (and more importantly avoid potential design patent infringements). In other situations, you’ll trying to think of something entirely different (in which there is a chance that you may run into the same problem again).
Below are some examples of some “design workarounds”.
Garbino vs Some Acrylic Beverage Tub: If you think through the problem of how to apply a handle on a plastic tub, there’s only so many aesthetically pleasing and feasible ways. It’s a different category of product so they shouldn’t get into trouble even if the top half of the Garbino is design patented.
Philips SBD7000 vs iLuv App Station: Philips thought of an easy way to make an iPhone dock that works both vertically and horizontally. The iLuv designers probably scratched their heads on how to design around it when they thought of the idea. Wonder if they will still get into trouble.
iMac vs eOne: Those eMachine guys tried hard to make their eOne look like an ugly cousin of the iMac, but they got sued nonetheless and lost.
How do you deal with such situations?
I usually go back to the drawing board to think of other alternatives. If I must do it that way, I’ll think of a design workaround that keeps me and my company from trouble.