yo wrote: ↑
February 3rd, 2019, 8:44 pm
Preface, not a lawyer. From experience with companies I have worked with in the past in addition to the utility patent we have filed for design patents in the US and China. The design patent process is much faster (and cheaper) and was helpful for blocking things leaving or entering ports.
That said, it is a gamble. I've been involved with several products that were knocked off. A case were the factory showed a variant of the design at a trade show (that we were attending) a full year before our product launch. It was 20% different, but we had to go and explain why this was not in the spirit of partnership and luckily they removed it from their booth on the opening day of the show.
Those were experiences with medium to large size companies that had legal teams. I hope someone else on here can speak to their experience as an individual or with a small company.
I actually have design patents on one of the pieces (It's a four-piece set) in addition to the utility patents on all of it. I lucked out with the utility patent process, and got almost all of my claims in about a year, which my attorney said is unheard of... usually it takes a year to three or four. After discussion with my attorney and further investigation we decided to not go further with design patents for now, as they are the easiest to bypass and what truly makes the furniture unique are the novel utility claims.
ralphzoontjens wrote: ↑
February 4th, 2019, 5:52 am
From what I hear it is very hard to prevent copycats in other markets.
What you can do is design the product in a way that you can delegate production of different parts to different factories. If that is not possible, you can only hope you have a reliable partner!
The advantages are of course 1. it is a compliment to your design and 2. it fuels innovation in that you have to create a unique product and bring it to market rapidly.
I have the unique packaging (it's part of the overall idea of the furniture) designed in one Chinese factory (I already have market-ready prototypes produced and ready to be ordered as soon as the furniture is developed and made), some of the hardware made in another, but the vast majority of the product is made from wood - if I get the wood made in one factory, it will be impossible to not know how to make the rest of the furniture.
What I'm most concerned about is the factory selling my furniture to markets where I'm protected in a roundabout way - copying my design and selling it for way less than I could online being one of them. The other scenario is them selling it in countries where I have patents, knowing I'm a small company and them having the capital, just being able to out-lawyer me. The first scenario is much more realistic, and is the bigger of the two concerns I have.
Thanks for the help so far guys. I'm going to meet with my attorney about this as well.