I am a designer. How can I prevent manufacturers and /or big retail companies copying my graphics or product designs and mass-producing them?
As soon as you produce an original design and put it on paper or make a model from it, you probably own the copyright (assuming that you have done the work in your own time – if you are in employment – and you are a British subject). You do not have to register your designs and the law of copyright will prevent someone else from illegally copying your designs.
However, you can register the design as either a Community, or a UK, design. The real advantage of registration is that this not only gives you the right to stop someone else copying the design (as with copyright) but also prevents them coming up with the excuse that the design that they are using is not copied from you but was “thought up independently”. The process of applying for a design as a registered design is a little complicated but, at Brand Protect, we have considerable experience of making such applications for our clients.
Once you have registered the design, you can use that design on anything from a porcelain pot to a t-shirt. The other advantage is that the design can be licensed to a retailer, or manufacturer, and so enable you to generate money for yourself.
In our experience, even if a large company knows that you own the copyright in a design, they will take your design and reproduce something akin to that design. Faced with a registered design they are less likely to “rip you off” as they know that it is relatively cheap for you to enforce your design right and they do not have many defenses available to them if they have copied your design. By registering your designs, you indicate that you know your rights and take those rights seriously.
We can help you to register new designs and then license those designs to third parties in ways that make money for you. Remember that design registration lasts up to 25 years.