Design registrations enhance Danish competitiveness
The ability to create and implement designs is crucial to Denmark’s competitiveness in the global knowledge society. However, even design icons can be victims of counterfeiting, with near-accurate copies found on the market to an ever-increasing extent, often side by side with original products or in contexts and at prices that do not readily signal to consumers that the products may be counterfeit. To maintain competitiveness, it is therefore important to ensure the identification of the original product and, in particular, to ensure that it is efficiently protected.
Product designs often enjoy copyright protection from the time of their creation. However, since copyright is an unregistered right, such protection will not be conclusively confirmed or rejected until a decision is issued in an infringement case. The same applies to protection pursuant to the non-registered EU design right, as well as general protection available against product counterfeiting.
A more reliable way of ensuring proof of protection for a product design is through a design registration. EU design registrations are relatively cost effective. Until the beginning of this year, design protection outside the European Union required national applications for each country concerned; however, since the Haag system came into effect on 1st January 2008, it has been possible for EU businesses to apply for an international design registration. So far, only a limited number of countries have ratified the Haag System, but it is expected that the United States, among others, will do so soon.
It is worth bearing in mind that a design registration can be obtained only if the design is novel, which is inherently not the case with designs that have been on the market for a long time. Both the overall preventive effect and the increasingly efficient enforcement obtained when protecting one’s product design by a registered IP right must thus be obtained by other means for instance, by registering the product design as a trademark (trade dress trademark). This was the course taken by Fritz Hansen Furniture, a company that is aware of the need to protect and enforce its IP rights. The company recently succeeded in registering its famous Egg chair as a trade dress trademark in both the European Union and the United States; the registration significantly improves the company’s competitiveness.
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