GRRR!!! Copycats and protecting ideas/concepts

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 it’s only worth what you’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 can’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 shouldn’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 “practitioner skilled in the art”. It’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).