In brief - Design registration, patent registration and
copyright protection crucial for owners of intellectual property
3D printing and manufacturing devices are easily available in
the marketplace and re-create a wide range of items, from
"static" items such as latch keys, to items with moving
parts, such as engines and other complex widgets. This technology
has made mass production of "knock offs" of physical
objects easy and relatively inexpensive.
How does 3D printing work?
The first stage of 3D printing is mapping a physical thing with
digital modelling using computer aided design (CAD) or some other
animation modelling software.
The modelling software creates a "blueprint" of the
object to be copied. The copy is made by the 3D printer by dividing
the blueprint into digital cross-sections allowing the printer to
"build" it layer by layer. 3D printers can create
replicas using a wide variety of material including metals, paper,
plastics, rubbers and other organic substances.
How to protect your business from theft of intellectual
Design is the way an object looks: its shape, its visual appeal.
A design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or
ornamentation which gives a product a unique appearance, and must
be new and distinctive.
Registration of a design provides the owner with a monopoly to
manufacture, sell, license, import, and use articles embodying the
protected design in the applicable territory for a period of years
(set on a country by country basis).
Design registration is intended to protect designs which have an
industrial or commercial use.
Eligibility for design registration varies from country to
country, but in general to apply successfully for design
registration, the creator of the design must be able to show that
the design is new and distinctive. In addition, your product must
be of a type permitted for design registration protection. In
Australia certain types of products such as medals, coins, flags,
coats of arms and integrated circuit boards are ineligible for
A registered patent protects new inventions - ideas - and
generally includes protection for how patented things work, what
they do, how they do it and how they are made.
A registered patent provides its owner with the ability to take
legal action to stop others from making, selling and using the
patented invention without permission from the patent owner in the
country where the patent applies.
Rules for patent applications vary from country to country but
in general, to apply successfully for a patent, the inventor must
show that the invention:
is new - unique
have an inventive step that is not obvious to
someone with knowledge and experience in the subject
be capable of being made or used in
is of subject matter capable of patent
protection (for example, not a scientific or mathematical
discovery, theory or method or artistic work, or other prohibited
Copyright is used to protect an owner's rights in written
and visual works. Copyright can also be used to protect certain
aspects of physical objects such as artistic works, including
paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages,
architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps, logos, layouts
and typographical arrangements.
Copyright automatically applies to a work on its creation.
However, the copyright registration process informs the world of
the owner's interest in the work and confirms the creation date
of the work.
It is important to recognise that copyright protection may not
apply if a product could have been protected by registration of a
design, but design registration was not pursued.
Passing off and similar protections
If a product is not protected by design, patent or copyright
laws, an owner whose work has been copied in an unauthorised manner
may be able to stop the infringement by relying on consumer
legislation that prevents actions which are intended to mislead or
confuse consumers. In addition, if the unauthorised copies include
a brand name, brand infringement actions may be pursued.
As a licensor or a licensee, here are some tips you should consider when negotiating your next licence agreement.
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