Enhancing your brand protection – by design!

Wendy Crosby

Enhancing your brand protection by design

If, like thousands of entrepreneurs during the pandemic, you have started your new business or are about to launch a new brand or a new product, then you should make sure your brand name and logo is covered by a registered trade mark. If you’ve already done this you may also wish to consider exploring Design Rights – which can work in tandem with your trade mark rights to protect aspects of the appearance of your new brand or product.

Unlike trade marks, your designs need to be new to be protected – however, you can still apply to register your designs within 12 months of your first disclosure of the design – and there’s the added benefit that the prosecution cycle is very short.

So, what can you protect with Design Rights? Well, they protect different aspects including the shape of your products or packaging, any surface decoration on your products or packaging or even parts of these aspects that make up your brand’s identity.

If your business is in the Fashion industry, the shape of your hand bags or sunglasses or items of clothing could be protected. Perhaps the silhouette of your bag is different or you may have changed the shape of your sunglasses from season to season. Protecting these features can deter competitors from selling any products of the same shape, even if they use a different trade mark to differentiate their product from yours.

If your business is in the Food industry, the surface decoration on your food products and packaging can also be protected. Have you designed a pattern or other decorative element as part of your brand identity? Is colour an important aspect of your branding? Protecting these features may deter competitors from using the same features on any other products, even if they fall into a different class of goods than your trade mark is protected in.

You can also protect individual elements that contribute to your brand’s identity. For example, if you are involved in the medical devices industry, you can focus design protection to individual elements of your

devices, such as a handle on a probe or the shape of the body of a syringe, or even a part of the housing of an instrument. Protecting the handle of a probe can deter competitors from applying the same handle to their devices, even where the overall shape of their devices themselves are very different to yours.

Finally, don’t forget that partial aspects can also be protected. In the beauty industry for example, you may have designed a decorative label for your cosmetics, or perhaps an eye catching series of ripples on your shampoo bottle that makes it stand out, or even a coloured element on your packaging based on the ingredients of the products? Focussing protection on these features can deter competitors from attempting to copy even small aspects of your branding, including the decorative label or only the ripples on your bottle while changing other features. This makes it harder for competitors to imitate your products, even in the smallest details.

Protecting different elements of the brand or product in separate designs, can make it very difficult for competitors to copy any individual aspects that you have created.

Please contact our Design team for further information.

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