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What's the difference? Protection for industrial designs


Amit Mahajan

The industrial design of a commercially produced product relates primarily to its aesthetics and has no relationship to its function, but there is some overlap between its protection and patent and copyright law, says Amit Mahajan.

The market can be a fickle place. While innovative and useful products may fail, frivolous ones may become market leaders. Consider this: there’s an old wine in a new bottle. And the new bottle is all the rage, the difference between a loss-making and a profitable enterprise.

Of course, all its competitors would be falling over themselves to imitate the design of the new bottle. In that case, our old wine will lose all the advantage that it had gained. How does the company go about protecting its bottle, and thereby its business? The answer lies in getting industrial design protection through registration.

Simply put, an industrial design refers to the shape of an object, its configuration, or any pattern or ornament on a product. The importance was best explained by Lord Reid in Amp v. Utilux: “Those who wish to purchase an article are often influenced in their choice not only by practical efficiency but with appearance. Common experience shows us that not all are influenced in the same way.

Industrial design, aesthetics, function


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