What part of a design is considered intellectual property and where can I search for registered designs?
The elements of intellectual property that can form part of a registered design include everything that makes up the ‘look’ of a product, including its appearance, shape, configuration and decoration. You can search for registered designs online at www.gov.uk/search-registered-design.
Other aspects of a product may also constitute your intellectual property. If they don’t meet the official definition of a design, you may need to register them in other ways. For example, if your product includes a logo, this may be registered as a trademark, or if it constitutes a creative work you’ll benefit from automatic copyright protection. To protect the details of how an invention works, you will need to register a patent.
What are the key steps in registering a design?
You can register the look of a product that you’ve designed to prevent people from copying or stealing it. The look of your design includes the appearance, physical shape, configuration and decoration. The appearance must differ from the appearance of already known and existing designs. It must be based on free thought and not copying elements from other designs.
In order to register a design it must meet certain criteria. It must be new, not offensive, must not use protected emblems or flags, and not be an invention or provide information on how a product works. The latter would require a patent instead. If you’re intending to patent your product, applying for a registered design must be done after the patent has been applied for.
To register, you will need to apply to the intellectual property office (IPO). You need to include illustrations and photographs (if applicable) showing different views of the design and also some information about how the design might be used.
The application form to the IPO should include a completed application form available from https://www.gov.uk/register-a-design. You must enclose the correct fee (which is also detailed on the government website). Your application will be examined within one month and providing there are no objections, it will usually be granted within 2-3 months.
A registered design is renewable every 5 years and the registration can last for up to 25 years.
Design registration can be complex so it’s advisable to seek trademark and patent attorneys who specialise in this area.
Why should I invest in marketing creative?
The quality of your marketing creative can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Positioning your brand and message, choosing your marketing channels and tailoring your offer are, of course, all important. However, your creative concept can make the difference between a successful, viral campaign and a message that sinks without a trace.
There are many examples of creative concepts that have played a vital role in the success of businesses. In the US, one of the most famous examples is the adoption of a duck mascot by insurance firm Aflac. The Aflac duck has starred in more than thirty commercials over more than two decades and has become synonymous with the brand. The duck is considered one of America’s favourite advertising icons.
A similar feat has been achieved more recently in the UK by comparethemarket.com and its use of an anthropomorphic Russian meerkat as an advertising mascot. It’s claimed that this campaign was responsible for making the business the fourth most visited insurance website in Britain, increasing its market share by 76% and severely damaging the competition. The creative idea proved so popular with the public that it’s spawned toys, books and other merchandise and continues to perform strongly.
These are both examples of the power of strong marketing creative, and its ability to bring products and brands to a wider cultural audience. Good, entertaining and engaging marketing creative can trigger sharing and conversations among your audience, which can multiply the effects of your initial campaign several times over.
Bonus: How can I find people to help explore creative solutions for current challenges?
The good news is you’ve probably already got the very best people with the most creative ideas, the clearest insights into the challenges facing your business, and a range of solutions just waiting to be explored. This is your current workforce.
So before you start trying to recruit new creative people, make sure that the culture of your business encourages creativity and fosters new ideas. Everyone has creative potential, and your employees have the benefit of knowing your processes and systems inside out, good and bad.
So ask them for their ideas. Dedicate time to brainstorming sessions. Make it clear that every idea is welcome, no matter how unusual. Encourage discussion, and demonstrate to your workforce that they can make a real difference to the success of your business.