A colleague sent me this article today because they thought I'd find it interesting - mental note: I must remember not to tell my colleagues about my potentially embarrassing interests!
The article relates to the design of a ship in Star Trek.
The headline of this article may appear wrong for two reasons. First, to those in the know, the quote "live long and prosper" comes from Star Trek TOS (the original series), whereas the ship in question is the Enterprise NCC-1701D from Star Trek TNG (the Next Generation). Secondly, why does the article refer to a patent when it concerns the protection of a design? Well, you've got me on the first one! In terms of the second, one of the many minor potentially confusing quirks of international IP law is that, in terms of protecting a design, whilst Europe refers to registered design protection, the US refers to design patents.
What can be learned from this design patent? In my mind, it's the importance of having as many tools in your IP 'toolkit' as possible. When Paramount Pictures filed the design patent for the design of the ship, they already had tools in their toolkit; including copyright in the show itself and trade marks in the branding of the show. However, they also decided to file a design patent to protect the design of the ship. Why might they have done this? The claim in the design patent provides more than a hint - disappointingly, for my imagination at least, it relates to a "toy spaceship" not a "spaceship" - Paramount prudently wanted to protect their ability to commercially exploit the show through merchandising in the form of toys.
Always investigate maximising the number of tools in your IP toolkit to ensure that you have protection for all potential commercial opportunities that come your way.
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