Knockoffs are a designer’s worst nightmare. Imagine spending precious time perfecting a design that is uniquely yours only to find others creating exact replicas, and selling and making a profit from them as if your hard work did not matter. That is an issue many designers have faced and will continue to face as communication tools like social media blur the lines of authenticity and ownership of ideas and designs. However, what is a knockoff and how do you protect your designs against them?
The World Of Knockoffs
A knockoff is an imitation or a copy of a design that is intentionally marketed as the original in order to receive a profit from it. While it is true that certain pieces inspire designers and that a basic level of imitation is at times encouraged, passing your copy of an original as an authentic piece goes beyond inspiration. Unfortunately, knockoffs pop up constantly. Some of the most iconic pieces of industrial design, such as the Eiffel chair, are accompanied with hundreds of replicas. The Eiffel chair can range in price anywhere from $40 (the replica) to $400 (the ones with licensed trademarks).
If world famous designs are susceptible to knockoffs, is there any hope for other designers? There absolutely is hope for knockoff protection, but designers must be willing to work hard to ensure that their rights are continuously protected. Seeking a lawyer’s counsel will provide you with the information you need in order to choose the most relevant form(s) of intellectual property protection such as: trademarks, copyright, and design and utility patents.
When your design becomes public, there are some tradeoffs. While you receive recognition and potential profits from your design, there are also people out there waiting to make cheaper replicas and then selling them to prospective customers. Therefore, it is important to take every step needed to protect your design, which includes having the correct and relevant intellectual property protections.