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How to Protect Your Design

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There are several ways to protect your artifacts, designs, products, services and systems and these are: copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, design registration, utility patents, industrial design rights, trade dress.

There are several ways to protect your artifacts, designs, products, services and systems and these are: copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, design registration, utility patents, industrial design rights, trade dress. This page lists available ways to protect your designs, but for more details contact an IP lawyer.

This page is provided for general information purposes and helps to provide a short non-profession non-expert summary please do consult to an intellectual property lawyer for a better understanding.  

Protecting Your Designs - Quick Summary
In quick summary, it is always better to register, patent and protect your intellectual property before its publication. For this purpose we offer concealed award categories. Furthermore it is a good idea to have proof to show that you are the original creator of a design, for this case we have free proof of creation service, which is not a patent or design right registration. Below, some ways to protect your intellectual property rights are listed with examples of what could be protected. Consult a IP lawyer for better information as we do not accept any damages or liabilities that could incur due to this document, proceed with care:

Copyrights
Copyrights are automated paternity rights granted to designers, artists and architects for their artistic works at the instant they are created; Having a copyright is free, but it should be noted that copyrights mostly protects artworks and artistic expressions (so technical or mechanical designs might not have copyright), there is no registration required to have a copyright. Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator (e.g. the photographer of a photograph or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their intellectual effort. You might be in a position to prove that you are the original creator. To help prove that you are the original creator i.e. to show that you have paternity over the product the A’ Design Award & Competition provides a service called “Proof of Creation”, in addition to this service you can keep copy of your drafts to prove creation. A copyright notice isn't necessary to be placed on work for it to be protected and it is a common misconception that work isn't copyrighted unless it has a copyright notice. We suggest you to utilize the proof of creation before joining the competition. You may also request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it. Who can benefit from Copyrights? Poets, Sculptors, Artists, Composers etc. for registering and patenting their literature, art works, music etc.

Copyrights
Trademarks are registered by governments, there is a process of application which could take some time. Trademarks protects an identifying feature that makes a product very unique and distinct; i.e. an artistic expression within a commercial product. You must apply trademark by paying some fees. A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. Trademarks can be owned, but also licensed. A trademark may be designated by the following symbols: ™ (the "trademark symbol", which is the letters "TM", for an unregistered trademark, a mark used to promote or brand goods), ℠ (which is the letters "SM" in superscript, for an unregistered service mark, a mark used to promote or brand services), ® (the letter "R" surrounded by a circle, for a registered trademark). A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements.[8] There is also a range of non-conventional trademarks comprising marks which do not fall into these standard categories, such as those based on color, smell, or sound. We suggest you to have a trademark before joining the competition. You may also request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it. Who can benefit from Trademarks? Large enterprises as well as small ones and brands to protect their original creations and offerings.

Patents
Patents protect commercial products, there are registration fees applied and special conditions must be met. You might need to patent your design in multiple countries. A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process. Patents should be available most countries for any invention, in all fields of technology, and the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years. Nevertheless, there are variations on what is patentable subject matter from country to country. The procedure for granting patents, requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a granted patent application must include one or more claims that define the invention. A patent may include many claims, each of which defines a specific property right. In most cases your design must be not known to public prior registration. Before joining the A’ Design Award & Competition, we suggest you have already a patent for your design, in case you are seriously considering sale and distribution worldwide. You may also request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it. Who can benefit from Patents? Product manufacturers and service providers to protect their original products and systems.

Trade Secrets
Trade Secret is information that Is not generally known to the public, confers some sort of economic benefit on its holder (where this benefit must derive specifically from its not being publicly known, not just from the value of the information itself) and is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others, and by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. You could join the A’ Design Awards’ concealed categories, this category does not publish results and could be useful in keeping your work secret, furthermore, the jury signs a Non-Disclosure Agreement, however in any case, it is a risk to upload the PDF which is only shown to jury. For Trade-Secrets, we suggest you to not to include it in the presentation of your work, if you have included during entry, you can edit your entry after awarding by requesting a change, and you could ask removal of the PDF document so that your trade secrets are kept. Do not use the proof of creation system. Who can benefit from Trade Secret? Anyone whose work could easily be copied.

Trade Dress
Trade dress protect the look of a product, to legally protect art that generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging or even the design of a building that signify the source of the product to consumers. Trade dress protection is intended to protect consumers from packaging or appearance of products that are designed to imitate other products; to prevent a consumer from buying one product under the belief that it is another. For example, the shape, color, and arrangement of the materials of a children's line of clothing can be protectable trade dress (though, the design of the garments themselves is not protected), as can the design of a magazine cover, the appearance and décor of a chain of restaurants, and a method of displaying wine bottles in a wine shop. Trade dress usually refers to type of “designs” that contribute to look but not to function, i.e. trade dress infringement is proven by demonstrating non-functionality, inherent distinctiveness or secondary meaning, and likelihood of confusion. Trade dress is about overall appearance and image of a product but not its function. If you lack the funds to get a trade dress registration you could as well apply for proof of creation document free of charge from us. Who can benefit from Trade Dress? Interior Designers, for franchising designs for example, as well as package designers etc.

Design Patents
Design Patent (in some countries called Registered Design) is a form of legal protection granted to the ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents are a type of industrial design right. Ornamental designs of jewelry, furniture, beverage containers and computer icons are examples of objects that are covered by design patents. In most countries, an utility is needed; i.e. artworks cannot have design patent. In most cases your design must be not known to public prior registration. In most cases your design must be not known to public prior registration. Before joining the A’ Design Award & Competition, we suggest you have already a design patent for your design, in case you are seriously considering sale and distribution worldwide. You may also request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it. Design patents protect ornamental features of a functional item but not the utilitarian features; i.e. it protects the look but not the mechanics. You may request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it to have time for design patent registration and you are also advised to legally register your designs that promise commercial gains. If you decide not to have a patent, or if you lack the funds to register a design patent you could as well apply for proof of creation document free of charge from us. Who can benefit from Design Patent? Companies that invest in design, who commission design works for creating original designs.

Industrial Design Right
Industrial design right is an intellectual property right that protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional pattern used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft. An industrial design right can be viewed as a sui generis intellectual property right similar to copyright. You may request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it to have time for industrial design right registration and you are also advised to legally register the industrial designs that promise commercial gains. If you decide not to have an industrial design right, or if you lack the funds to register an industrial design right you could as well apply for proof of creation document free of charge from us. It is interesting to note that the existence of “unregistered community design” rights in European Union that is available in some countries to have short-term protection for items of short market duration. Who can benefit from Design Patent? Companies, product manufacturers and brands that have developed original products.

Utility Patent
Utility Patents protect technologic and mechanic innovations. You can apply for provisional - short term and non-provisional – long term patents. Utility is a patentability requirement as an invention is "useful" if it provides some identifiable benefit and is capable of use. The majority of inventions are usually not challenged as lacking utility, but the doctrine prevents the patenting of fantastic or hypothetical devices such as perpetual motion machines, patentable invention must have industrial applicability. In considering the requirement of utility for patents, there are three main factors to review: operability of the invention, a beneficial use of the invention, and practical use of the invention. The Utility patent is good and the right choice to protect industrial products that would be produced in mass quantities, the utility patent is to protect the mechanism, so for example if you have a folding chair, you can have utility patent for its folding mechanism, and a design patent for its overall look. Most utility patent applications require that the design or mechanism is unknown, unpublished prior application, thus you may request moving your design to a concealed category to hide it to have time for utility patent registration and you are also advised to legally register the utility patent for product that promise commercial gains. If you decide not to have a utility patent, or if you lack the funds to register the utility patent you could as well apply for proof of creation document free of charge from us. Who can benefit from Utility Patent? Inventors or product manufacturers that have created a new mechanism, incremental innovation or new technology.

Learn More
Learn about Proof of Creation, a free service by A' Design Award and Competition. Note: To create the "Proof of Creation" document for your designs, go to your Control Panel and click on the "Proof of Creation" link.

 
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