Creating a new product is a major event in the life of an entrepreneur in Florida and elsewhere. Whether this is the first product designed or not, an entrepreneur or inventor should take steps to protect their product. This not only protects them as the creator but also ensure that no one else can copy or assume the hard work they put forth in creating the product.
Protecting the design of your product
How a product looks may be for the purpose of making it aesthetically pleasing, the reality is that how a product looks can be protected. Whether the design of a product is functionally or not, the design is what makes the product the product. Therefore, this should be protected.
There are various avenues to potentially protect the appearance of a product. This could be secured through design patents, copyrights, trade dress and utility patents, and these four ways will be discussed further.
Ways to protect an unregistered design
If one seeks to obtain a design patent, timely filing for one through the US Patent and Trademark office must complete this. Doing so will help ensure protection for their design, whether it is for individual portions of the product or features of it.
So long as the underlying work is protectable, a copyright could be secured. This means that the design must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. A copyright is able to provide protection for certain elements of a design so long as two elements are met. First, it is perceived as a two or three-dimensional work or art that is separate from the useful article. Second, it would qualify as a protected work if it were imagined separately from the useful article it is incorporated in.
A trade dress is another form of protection for a product. It includes the protection of the configuration of the product as well as the product packaging. Finally, a utility patent could be used to protect the appearance of an article, as the scope of the right can be broader. However, these are more difficult to obtain for just the appearance of a product, making it more likely for one to seek a design patent over a utility patent.
Working through an intellectual property matter can be challenging. There are many issues to consider, especially when it comes to taking steps to protect one’s product or idea. Thus, it is important to take the time to fully understand what options you have when it comes to protecting your rights.