Christmas gifts: unwrapping a wealth of intellectual property

It’s that time of the year again when thoughts turn to all things Christmas. And boy do we all need some festive cheer to brighten up our moods as we approach the end of 2020.  

Although we are not aware of it, we are surrounded by all forms of intellectual property when we go Christmas shopping.

By ‘Christmas shopping’ we mean actually walking around outside and going into shops, not sitting on your couch browsing the virtual boutiques on your smart phone – you need the full sensory experience to truly appreciate the beauty of a physical object …

Just imagine you are browsing the cosmetics aisles of a store searching for that perfect gift. You are literally bombarded by an army of different brands and labels all vying for your attention. There are the familiar, trusted names that have been around for decades, sharing the same shelf space with their contemporaries.

No matter what gift you are looking for, from skincare to perfume, make-up to nail polish all these products are linked by a common thread: they are all examples of trademarks.

A company’s trademark sets it apart from its competitors and is a very valuable form of IP, protecting a brand from rogue infringers. You want to be sure you are purchasing the genuine product when you go shopping and seeing that an item has been trademarked is a reassuring sign to the consumer that a product is not a counterfeit.

Click here for more information on trademarks.

Picture yourself now in your local cookshop where you’ve gone in search of further inspiration for Christmas gifts. All around you are products that have started their life as a prototype and evolved into a registered design before eventually finding their way onto the shelf and into your shopping basket.

That reusable water bottle with its iconic shape and bright colours will have already been on a journey to register its unique design and ensure its shape and colours are protected so no other firm can steal the product’s design attributes.  

If you have developed a product and want to protect its appearance then a design registration would be the best way to proceed. A registered design application can also be used to protect the shape or contours of a product, as well as its texture or the materials used in fabrication.

There’s more information on designs on our website.

Let’s consider the higher ticket items on offer in the kitchen department. Those highly covetable coffee makers, with their shiny silver exteriors could of course be an example of both a design and a patent.

With a patent lasting no more than 20 years most espresso machines on the market now are reproductions of the original Nespresso machine from the 1980s. Even the coffee pods used in the original espresso machines have seen their patents lapse allowing manufacturers to produce their own coffee pod designs to compete in today’s market.

So the purpose of a patent is to protect functionality; a patent is a form of IP that protects a new invention that solves a technical problem.

If you want to understand more about the patent process have a look at the patent section of our website.

It will be a novelty going to the shops again for more than just picking up our weekly groceries, and next time you are out looking for that perfect gift perhaps you will notice those trademarks and designs hidden beneath the shiny packaging.