Protection against infringement of industrial designs


Over the past decades, the growth of the global economy, emerging markets with valuable intellectual property (IP) and business opportunities based on e-commerce have resulted in the filing of more trademarks for take advantage of business opportunities. Today there are more trademarks than ever before and, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the number of trademark filings is increasing exponentially, peaking 30% in 2017 compared to to the previous year. This increase is equivalent to approximately 9.11 million applications filed. This means for marketers, creative agencies and brand consultants that building and registering a single brand in multiple jurisdictions is now a major challenge.

This increase can be attributed to a number of factors, including an expansion of Chinese brands. This country is responsible for the 30% increase in the number of trademark registrations in 2017, with 5.75 million trademarks registered that year. Other factors include the proliferation of business activity on the Internet and social media, and the filing of trademarks by brands in global markets.

With the increase in trademark registrations, it becomes increasingly difficult for trademark owners to register an industrial design trademark that is unique and meaningful without infringing on an existing trademark. In addition, once they have obtained a trademark, they should watch out for breaches to their existing portfolios. This underlines the importance of both the search for trademarks before registration and vigilance afterwards, which requires a significant investment of skills, time and money.

But these processes need to be done thoughtfully, because not doing or not doing them right can have serious consequences. These include the inability to obtain a trademark, infringement of the intellectual property of another organization, possible litigation and customer confusion. In addition, it is also essential to monitor trademarks to prevent other brands from infringing on your intellectual property.

The offense continues to increase

Trademark infringement can have a devastating effect on a brand, whether it’s a rebranding for a launch or legal action against a counterfeit brand. Although brands try to minimize the effects of potential counterfeiting, it remains on the increase. According to a recent study conducted by CompuMark, 81% of those polled said they had been victims of crime last year, almost 10% more than in 2017. This is a major problem for brands, and the increase in incidents could indicate an upward trend.

And counterfeiting does not only occur in traditional brands, such as trade names and brands, but also in industrial design. Need proof? A recent CompuMark survey found that one in three brands of respondents had experienced counterfeiting of their industrial design marks in the past year.

This means for trademark professionals that they need to monitor their existing industrial designs and conduct extensive research before filing new ones. Organizations need to be diligent in protecting their key brands, as breaches are rampant everywhere.

Avoid infringements

Research helps brands successfully register industrial designs, which will likely become one of their most valuable assets. As a result, they will have registered rights to the design. And every brand owner knows that the real value of their brand goes far beyond the products or services; it lies in the meaning he has for his clients, often associated with his appearance.

However, while there are a host of benefits to proper search, brands might be tempted to use free search tools due to budget constraints. But what is the real cost of free tools?

Relying on free and easy-to-access databases or search engines, such as Google or the patent and trademark offices, when searching for and approving an industrial design, can Sound like a good idea, but it can end up doing more harm than good, leaving businesses vulnerable. These resources simply can’t cover every design or area of ​​research, don’t offer expert advice or analysis, and can’t deliver the level of customization that brands really need to ensure thorough research and research. appropriate.

If the cases of counterfeiting are increasing, it is the consequences that really hurt the brand. A brand that is not completely sure of its research approach risks paying a heavy price. Whether it’s complex legal issues or complex rebranding processes, or even wasted time and effort, brands put themselves at risk when they decide not to perform a detailed search or registration process. .

Last year, nearly a third of companies were forced to change a brand name following an infringement, and three-quarters had to take legal action against the counterfeits. Legal action is not cheap and can take a long time to resolve. In the United States, for example, litigation costs between $ 120,000 and $ 750,000, and sometimes even millions of dollars, depending on the complexity of the case.

The first danger is obvious: not having a registered trademark of an industrial design. When a brand operates without properly registering its industrial design, it opens the door for competitors to copy and capitalize on already developed brand equity. Therefore, if a copycat competitor starts using your brand’s assets, you may need to engage in expensive, complicated, and time-consuming legal proceedings to reclaim ownership of your own design. These procedures become even more complicated if the copy mark did register the industrial design, regardless of who used it first. This can damage your brand and lead to a complex rebranding and redesign process.

Another danger that brands face from not conducting proper research is that they have no way of knowing for sure whether they have the rights to use a design. Therefore, they could infringe other industrial designs without even knowing it. This is not only illegal, but can lead to legal problems, market confusion, serious damage to customer confidence, and costly lawsuits.

Finally, a design which conflicts with an existing design will likely be rejected by the examiner, and usually months after its filing. Therefore, research before filing reduces the risk of this delay. When launching a product, it is essential to do it on time, and every day of delay results in a waste of money.

At a time when trademark registrations continue to increase, the importance of thorough research is undeniable. But the question is, can this process be made easier, more accessible and faster and more cost effective?

Technology leads the way

When it comes to research into industrial design brands, technology can change it for the better. When it comes to industrial design research, for example, technology plays a fundamental role in improving and making the process more efficient. Through cutting-edge AI-powered image recognition software, the technology opens the door to understanding and understanding designs for what they stand for. With different methods, not just image codes or keywords, it creates new, faster and more efficient ways to compare designs.

The registration of an industrial design is a 100% visual intellectual property right. Codes and classes have been made to categorize designs, but what really matters is how they look. Although humans are able to compare two images, AI and image recognition technology can identify identical and similar images from a database of millions of images much faster than a human.

By learning patterns and a much more intuitive search strategy, the technology enables a whole different kind of analysis, an analysis that focuses research and delivers more accurate results quickly.

With just a few clicks, TMgo635 Industrial Design Search (a CompuMark product) can compare an industrial design, analyze the similarities and assess whether or not a specific design infringes another design. AI-based image recognition software can improve and categorize designs much faster and more simply in a way that helps users identify and assess risk.

By making this process more accessible and simpler, AI-based image recognition software is destined to become a powerful research tool in industrial design and branding, especially when combined with knowledge and to human expertise.

With more than 12 million trademark applications filed worldwide last year, which according to WIPO indicators represents an increase of 27% over the previous year, trademark research is becoming de more and more important. Therefore, it is not surprising that as the number of companies and entrepreneurs registering brands continues to increase, the need for faster, simpler and more efficient ways to find brands will become more and more important. in addition essential.

This powerful technology is changing the search for industrial design brands by making it more convenient, avoiding irrelevant results, reducing wasted time, and broadening the search to be entirely more accurate. It also adds value and creates new opportunities for different types of businesses to develop strategies that fit their needs, without having to compromise on budgets, deadlines or goals.

Karl Doane is Senior Product Manager at CompuMark. He has managed product strategy for over 20 years and has experience in intellectual property, consumer electronics, communications and semiconductors.

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