I have a familiar dilemma… little money to pay a patent lawyer and knowing damn well that when i show my new washbasin design at Milan it will ‘inspire’ another design or a blatent copy. My friend has had both her (very original and well known) designs copied by chinese ‘designers’.
A bathroom company recommended the Madrid Protocol as an alternative and cost effective way of protecting ideas. I would like to hear any other suggestions apart from posting yourself a sealed envelope…
I wish I could give you a more positive response, but the cold, hard fact is that even if you get a design patent itâ€™s only worth what youâ€™re willing to spend to defend it. Unless you have very deep pockets, or sell/license your design to someone who does, a company that copies your design is betting that you canâ€™t afford to get into a protracted legal battle.
You would also likely find that the company that infringes on your patent would try to show that the patent shouldnâ€™t have been granted in the first place. They will show what they contend is prior art or argue that the design is obvious to a â€œpractitioner skilled in the artâ€. Itâ€™s a sorry state of affairs, but it does allow a lot of lawyers to live very comfortable lives!
You are right… I even had a potential manufacturer in scandinavia (2 months after approach)claim they had designed a similar product(but were not prepared to show me), that my idea was not new etc but they weren’t quite ready to exhibit their design at LDF. I am waiting to see what they show at Stockholm next month(i am attending)…
Marike bathrooms had one of their production designs copied and luckily all it took was a quiet word and the offending party chose not to produce their version. One thing I learnt is NEVER show a prototype at Milan unless you can put it into production v quickly. A competitor will take elements of your work and can easily have a version produced before the next salone(which has happened to me).