Product and Brand Protection in Product Design
PATENTABLE DESIGN AND AVOIDING PATENT INFRINGEMENT
Protecting your intellectual property is an important part of any R&D project. The question of how and when to start the process is a common query, without an obvious answer.
There are many forms of brand and product protection, including patents, copyright, design registration, innovation patents (utility), provisional patents, or international patent applications (PCT). They are potentially useful tools for protecting your brand or product and work in a variety of ways.
Over the past 10 years, OnePointSix has built up a portfolio of many successfully patented products, both locally and internationally. We have worked with our clients to create new patentable designs from scratch and also helped to ensure they don’t infringe on existing patents.
Ensuring your design doesn’t infringe on existing patents, either in your industry or in others, is an important part of the due diligence and research required. When developing a new product for an existing market, it’s critical to ensure that you’re not infringing on any of your competitor's protected IP. This way you’re not only avoiding financial risk, but you’re also guaranteeing that your new design will be truly unique.
We have outlined several of the most common questions we receive.
When should I patent my product?
When the design is complete and fully functional.
Many people want to patent the idea prior to creating a working design. This usually results in significant modifications to your patent application or more realistically starting the patent process again.
A patent protects the function of a design and outlines the individual details that result in that function. A single functional element or a combination of functional elements create the “claims” in a patent. Through the design process, essentially all designs and details will change, therefore the “claims” can only be defined after the design has been resolved.
Conducting a patent search and other extensive research is always a good idea at the beginning of the design process. This will outline existing designs and patents, if any.
Idea - I want to patent a chair to sit on
Patent – A patent protects the function and physical elements that result in the function.
To explain the function you will need imagery and text explaining how each part of the chair works.
The patent will state the outcome – “a chair to sit on”, but the important part is how the design achieves this outcome.
Claim 1 – it has 4 legs
Claim 2 – those 4 legs hold up a platform
Claim 3 – all items are made of wood
If the design isn’t resolved and ends up changing, then the claims and therefore the patent also require updating.
How do I protect my idea while it's being designed?
Ensure you seek proper legal advice, but in general; everyone involved should sign a CA (confidentiality agreement) or NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Simply put; this keeps all details regarding your idea out of the public domain and you have, in writing, that the idea is yours.
What other types of protection exist?
There are several and each should be researched to understand the intricacies.
Here is an overview of some common IP protection options:
Patent – this protects the function of a design to create a desired out.
This can be country-specific or cover multiple countries.
Design registration – this protects the look/aesthetics/feel of a product.
Innovative patent – this is only in certain countries. This is similar to a patent but uses the combination of existing functions to create a novel/unique design.
Copywrite – this protects literary works usually making up the branding. Logos/names.
Are patents expensive?
It does depend on what you are trying to achieve and in which countries.
For example, a simple patent in one country could be a few thousand dollars, whereas a complex patent, registered in multiple countries can be hundreds of thousands.
Is the design process expensive?
Creating products, and patentable designs requires years of experience and several unique skill sets. An industrial designer must understand how patents work, how products are manufactured, current aesthetic trends, various digital software and possess an innate ‘out of the box’ sense of creativity; combining all these elements into a design that functions, looks world-class, and is patentable. Each of the above skills takes years of experience to build up.
The design of any new product contains multiple stages to progress from an idea to a fully designed product and can range in price from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.
Onepointsix has a reputation for creating elegant, patentable, and functional products. We can work independently or closely with your patent attorneys to create unique ideas from scratch or create designs that avoid infringing on existing patents. Get in contact if you would like to know more, or find out about getting a quote for your project. We’d love to hear from you!
Discussing options with qualified specialists is always advised. Above is an understanding and starting point for your design process.