Shruti Barton MA Creative Economy
Designer Handbag v Lost Property, 2012, with Rebecca Loudon, IP Solicitor, Briffa
I can also reel off the top 5 Intellectual Property law firms, as rated by Legal 500 (Bird and Bird, Bristows, Hogan Lovells, Olswang, ok, I’ll stop there). Never before, however, have I had to listen so intently to the specifics of the black letter law as described by Rebecca Loudon at Briffa. I’ve heard of Briffa, not to be mistaken for Brita water filters, which was the extent of my pun usage during office hours back then.
Given our job over the next few months is to design, product, market and sell online (www.etsy.com), offline (Kingston) and anywhere in between (friends and family be warned), a potentially award-winning innovative new product which has never before been seen on the market, making a simple note of Rebecca’s top tips for safeguarding our ideas proved to be a prerequisite and surprisingly of interest. It seems to me that it makes sense to keep things under our hats until we’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s.
The intention was to bring Rebecca’s guide to life with some anecdotal imagery depicting examples of companies and their products which have resulted in high profile IP infringement court cases (the Gucci v Gusacci bag was my favourite – I can’t quite believe that Gucci lost!). Sadly, on closer inspection (yes Google – I just can’t seem to get on with Bing – isn’t there a case of infringement going on there?), it appears that we bloggers are not exempt from copyright violation either as a result of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act, 1988), hence my use of www.commons.wikimedia.org mainstream imagery and reference to fussy web links to illustrate the key types of IP infringement, as follows:
1. Intellectual Copyright: Artist Zlatka Pirin Paneva (who sells work on www.etsy.com) sued the shop C. Wonder in USA, for breach of intellectual copyright, August 2012. Verdict: The goods have been taken off the C. Wonder’s website and store. Note to self: venture capitalists might invest in our product. Or then again they might not and just duplicate it for themselves. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2186016/C-Wonder-owned-Tory-Burchs-ex-husband-sued-copying-Etsy-artists-designs.html
2. Unregistered Community Design Rights: Mattel Inc. v Woolbro Distributors, Simba Toys (Hong Kong) Limited and Simba Toys GmbH (2002). Mattel sued Simba Toys for copying their ‘My Scene’ Barbie Doll range. Verdict: Mattel won, Simba had to give Mattel lots of cash, hand over the duplicate dollies and tail between legs, explain the mishap to all their distributors. Oops. http://www.addleshawgoddard.com/view.asp?content_id=1524&parent_id=941
3. Registered Designs: Interlego AG v Tyco Industries Inc (1989) AC 217. Lego sued Tyco over its production of similar looking bricks. Verdict: Tyco won on the basis that Lego was not protected under the Copyright Act, 1956, however qualified for registered design protection (really complicated case with lots of other factors involved including expired patents and unprotected registered design at the time)http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/uploadedFiles/Reuters_Content/2012/01_-_January/Tyco_Lego.pdf
4. Copyright Infringement: Jones v. Blige 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009), where Leonard Jones and James E. White claimed to have sent a demo off to Universal Music ,which bore resemblance to the song ‘A Family Affair’ sung by Mary J. Blige. Verdict: Blige won (though that’s not the only IP case she’s been involved with over the years, something fishy going on there). http://cip.law.ucla.edu/cases/2000-2009/Pages/jonesblige.aspx
5. EU Registered Design: Samsung Electronics (UK) Limited & Anr v. Apple Inc., with Apple suiting Samsung for copying the ipad. Verdict: Apple lost the case which ended up in the High Court of Justice. Apparently, the judge decided that the Samsung tablet did not look ‘cool’ enough to look like an iPad. I didn’t know judges knew the urban meaning of that word. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-09/samsung-wins-u-k-apple-ruling-over-not-as-cool-galaxy-tablet.html
6. Trademark Infringement: Guccio Gucci SpA v Handelsselskabet Rudi og Harald Nielsen A/S (2010) – Gucci sue fashion importer ‘Gusacci’ (aka Nielsen, Denmark) in a bid to protect the GUCCI trademark, and registered single letter ‘G’. Verdict: Interestingly the judge did not find Nielsen guilty and Gucci lost the case. http://www.internationallawoffice.com/newsletters/detail.aspx?g=53840f20-d363-4ffa-a8cf-0384d91cbe50
7. Patents: Apple inc. v Samsung Electronics, USA, 2012. Verdict: This time Samsung has been ordered to pay US$1 billion for infringing 6 patents. The battle of the technology giants continue…http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-15/apple-samsung-allowed-to-add-products-to-patent-lawsuit
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