Protect Your Brand & Your Products Copy
There are a few ways you can protect your brand and your products from getting copied or violated. You need to be aware of these rights for the sake of your own brand, but also to make sure you don’t interfere with someone else’s brand. Having the right protection can help you create customer confidence, attract potential investors, and improve your brand’s overall value.
Intellectual property or IP is, according to WIPO, creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.
A trademarkis a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies your products and set them apart from those of others. You typically want a trademark for your brand name and logo. In order to receive a trademark, you need to apply to an intellectual property organization. You apply separately for each market or country you want the protection in. Every country has their own organization such as the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) in the US. There are a few organizations covering larger areas, where you can apply for protection in several countries at once, such as EUIPO (the European Union Intellectual Property Office) in the EO and the WIPO (The World Intellectual Property Organization) covering over 100 countries.
A trademark application takes time so you should get started as early as possible. You want to know if your logo is protected before making labels and marketing material. You apply for a trademark in certain categories or classes. Make sure you apply in all classes where your current, as well as upcoming, products fit in. There is an extra application fee for every class you want the protection in. Normally a trademark lasts for 10 years, and then you need to renew your application.
You want the trademark protection for two major reasons. The first is so that your brand is protected and no one tries to steal your thunder. The second is to make sure YOU don’t interfere with someone else’s brand. You don’t want to be sued because your brand turned out to be too similar to an existing one.
With a trademark, you can pursue legal action when someone intentionally or unintentionally is using a similar logo or name for a similar product.
Copyright is a right that grants a creator of original work to determine how it can be used by others. The exact legislation for how copyright works varies from region to region. Sometimes copyrights are granted by public law and are in that case considered regional rights. This means that copyrights granted by the law of a certain state, do not extend beyond the territory of that specific jurisdiction. Many countries have made agreements with other countries how to act in crossing border situations and when national rights collide. Typically, the public law duration of a copyright expires 50 to 100 years after the creator dies, depending on the jurisdiction.
Normally you don’t apply for copyright protection. You will automatically have copyright protection when you are the creator of the original work. However, there are countries where some formalities are needed before the copyright protection is valid. Copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves.
Our experience is that you should not focus on copyright protection. If a competitor copies you and just makes a minor tweak, then your copyright is not valid. Focus on your product development and make sure you will be the first one out on the market with your products anyway.
A registered design protects the way a product looks. A registered design is a monopoly for a design when applied to an article and is granted under the laws of a country the registered design is filed in.
The registered design allows the owner of that design to grant access to, or exclude others from, making, selling, offering for sale or hire the design protected by the registered design. The exact monopoly the design covers is contained in the drawings in the registered design.
A registered design is just like a trademark, valid for a certain period of time. After that period you need to renew it, including paying the renewal fee. If the registered design protection is not renewed, other people are free to use your design.
Can you patent clothing design? Yes, you can. It also means that your competitors can patent design. Clothing companies will often patent a unique design to prevent other companies from imitating it. This is a major reason for you to constantly stay updated with your market and the products in it. It happens that clothing companies produce large bulk production, unaware that they are using someone else’s patent. This leads to either scrap the entire production batch or pay license or a settlement fee. It gets expensive in any case.
You can patent the unique clothing design with a design patent, or a unique function with a utility patent. Registration of clothing design for a patent is more difficult than obtaining trademark or a registered design. You need to show evidence that your design or function is unique and can be classified as an invention. You are claiming invention of the unique look of the clothing and not the clothing itself.
If you hold design patent rights, you can sell or license them to another clothing company.
Fighting legal battles is time, money and energy draining. The best way to handle these kinds of issues could be to just make sure you are innovative, first out in the market with your designs, and constantly changing. If someone is copying you, they will not be the original and already behind when you launch a newly updated collection.
This information is for informational purposes only. We are not lawyers, and any legal advice that we give is our opinion based on our own experiences. You should always seek the advice of a legal professional before acting on something that we have published or recommended. We can recommend lawyers if you need one, just send us a message.