Marley & Lockyer plates being made
- M&L Snowflakes showing the signature linen imprint
This is something that is very close to my heart and all designers and makers should look into this…protecting your brand!
Recently I attended a Copyright/Intellectual Property seminar at The University Of Tasmania to try and get some more information on how to better protect my brand and my designs. Having to see copycats pop up all over the place has really started to make me think with a more emotionally-detached-business like mind. now, I am by no means a Copyright Lawyer, so I will just touch on what I learnt. If you want to find out more, I suggest you contact either a Copyright Lawyer or the Governmental body on Copyright.
The seminar covered everything from Copyright, Intellectual Property, Trademarking, Patents and Registered Designs. I wanted to talk a little bit about what I found out as it will probably apply to your brand as well if you are a maker or designer.
Copyright– Firstly, it seems a lot of designers don’t know what it really means. Most think that because they made something they own the copyright…well to some extent, yes. But, it depends how it was made. If it was totally with your own hands, from your own design, then yes, you are protected. What I did find out, which is especially important to ‘Handmade Designers’ is this…once you have made a copy from a design more than 50 times, it is no longer ‘handmade’, it is classed as mass produced and Copyright no longer protects your work!! (You then need to seek Design registration). This includes things made over and over from a single design like jewelry, screen printing, etc. Being protected by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) is free and can be applied to anything you have drawn, sculpted, made, sung etc. Once it is in a material form, it is protected. Now, if you make your product with someone elses ‘parts’ eg- cabochon’s etc, you should have written permission from the original designer of that piece to say you are allowed to use their copyrighted piece to make your own product. If not, go get it! Or, you can find out if that fabric/cabochon/mold/laser cut is free from Copyright, or the original maker has allowed it to be reproduced. Copyright lasts for 70 years after the makers death.
Intellectual Property protection– If you wish to make more than 50 copies of your design, you should be thinking about Intellectual Property protection under the Design Act 2003 (Cth). This protects the shape, pattern or outline of a design that is applied to your work. Every country has this protection and you should seek out your countries application process for more details. With this you are still covered with Copyright once you exceed 50 copies of that work. The great side to this protection is that the owner of the design has the exclusive right to use this work and can take action if someone has copied it. You are protected for 5-10 years with this and it can be re-newed.
Trademarks– this is all about your business name, the way something is packaged, a smell, , a logo, a shape etc- something distinctive. It can’t be descriptive (like a jewelry maker calling their Trademark, Jewelry Designs). This is the ultimate protection for your brand and is a lengthy process, but worth it. Now, you can add the little TM to your product etc, to show you are claiming Trademark of the product, without registering, but that does not mean it is covered. The R in a circle ® shows your product/name etc is registered with the Trademarks office and can not be copied in any way.
So, what happens if you have a copyright and someone copies that design? Well, I asked the Copyright Lawyer (I actually asked her loads in regards to my business…poor Woman) and she said you should make contact with the ‘copier’ and let them now that you believe Copyright has been infringed. If you have proof, like the day you first posted your product online for example and know the other person posted it later, then it helps your cause and you can ask for the product in mention to be removed. If nothing is solved from this, then seek advice from a Copyright Lawyer.
This brings me to this….
Do Your Homework!!!!
Look online to see that your product has not been done before. Nothing erks me more than knowing someone has copied me (because it is amazing what you can ‘see’ online like who is visiting your pages etc), re producing my item by thinking they can slightly ‘tweak’ it and then claiming they had no idea…everyone gets ideas from somewhere!
I did have a full post on this, but funnily enough, it was right when my blog was hijacked!! So, there is a little bit about what I learnt. Obviously, like I said at the start, I am no expert and am wading through the information like everyone else and I am sure there is parts I may have missed, which is why YOU need to go and have a read with your business’ heart in mind.
Head over to your Governments main website to find links to the relevant departments. Hope this helped a little bit and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.