What Rights Accrue to the Owner of a Registered Design
A common question asked is, how does having a design registration help me and my business? What will I gain by it? How much will it cost? Is it worth it?
One way of thinking about Intellectual Property and its value is to compare it to Real Estate. Imagine you have just bought a house. You would probably want your new neighbors to know that the property is private and out of bounds to them (except by invitation). A classic way of showing this is to put up a fence so as to clearly mark your property line.
Now think about Intellectual Property Rights. When acquiring a registration for a design, patent, trademark, or copyright it is equivalent to putting a fence around your property. In the same way that a fence clearly delineates your property from all others with the aim of preventing trespassing, the registration of your Intellectual Property Rights also serves as a means to prevent encroachment, thereon and enables you to take legal action against a “trespasser” or “infringer”. This applies to registered design rights, as well as to other types of intellectual property.
As part and parcel of owning a registered design right, the owner also has an exclusive right to legally prevent all unauthorized third parties from the manufacture, sale, rental, distribution, or importation of the product to which the registered design relates. This right also extends to products whose design creates an overall impression that it is not different from the overall impression created by your registered design.
Now that you know that you can obtain the right to control the destiny of your product design in the countries where you register it, the simple question is: “how much is that worth to me?”. The other side to that coin is, how much do I care about letting someone else benefit from my investment in the design and marketing of my product in country X? To register any given design in any given country costs no more than a low, single-digit sum of a few thousand dollars? Is it worth that sum to safeguard your investment? Whatever your decision, it will be time well spent.