Patents design protections, copyright and trademarks
When discussing intellectual property rights there are lots of misunderstandings and faulty assumptions. The following is an attempt to explain what is correct and what applies to us.
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time 50-75 years. ...
Copyright is automatic meaning everyone has his/her rights without any need to apply for them. In practice this means all text, pictures, drawings, music etc., such as the content on this website is protected by copyright. You may thus not use any of our pictures or texts without our written consent, even if we publicize the very same material on the net.
Trademark registration; Holdon is a registered trademark “Holdon® “ in EU, USA and China and an unregistered (but still protected by usage) Holdon™ on other markets. Having a registered trademark means that no other entity may use same mark for products in same group of products in the protected states.
Design (Patent) Protection; A layout of a product can be protected by means of design only, not taking function in consideration. As an example Holdon® Midi has design protection in USA and EU among other countries.
Patent (Utility) protection; is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor or assignee for a period of time normally 20 years in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process.
Holdon® clips are patented as principle in USA and EU countries among others.
Where and when do these rights apply on Holdon® & Easyklip®?
A patent or a design protection in one country provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the protected item for the term of the protection, in the same country. Since Holdon® clips are patented in EU countries and USA any making, using, selling, offering for sale, in these countries or importing to these countries is an illegal act. Trademark protection provides the exclusive right to a brand within a product group in a country for as long as the maintenance fees are paid. Holdon® is a registered trademark in USA, EU and China and may not be used by anyone in these countries making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing/exporting products in same group as the protection.
How to enforce our rights?
A) Legally in court; There is a misconception that intellectual rights are not protected by governments and that only those affording lawsuits can enforce their rights. The reason for this thinking is that legal battles regarding IP rights are normally fought as civil rights legal suits. This means that there is an economical risk to the infringer to lose as well and we have insurances covering our costs up until we have a verdict. We thus have nothing to lose on a battle where we know we are right.
Further, there is a myth stating that patent protection can easily be bypassed by changing one or several of the patented principals. This is however not true since most countries have legal rules commonly named “Doctrine of Equivalents” that allows “a court to hold a party liable for patent infringement even though the infringing device or process does not fall within the literal scope of a patent claim, but nevertheless is equivalent to the claimed invention”.
Furthermore, most design patents are valid on intrusions even if design avoids from the patented design, as an example US design patents are considered valid if they are alike “in the eyes of an ordinary observer, giving such attention as a purchaser usually gives”. This is especially probable to happen for specific unique products like ours, and less likely for simple designs that are already on the market.
B) Practically in business; Almost all states, including China, have a working anti-counterfeit program. This program can normally be helped to much better levels by a filing suspected infringers. Being filed means goods to/from these companies/persons is checked more thoroughly and counterfeit goods is destroyed.
How to make sure you get original products and who is responsible at counterfeit sales.
Simplest way to verify your products originality is to check quality and patent marking. All our clips are marked with our US Patent Number. You are always welcome file a sample to us for verification. Please be sure to send us an unbroken pack and your receipt of purchase. Please also note that any legal actions will be against the part that sells the counterfeit goods in the protected country, not necessarily the maker of the product. This means that it is always the part selling the protected item in the protected country that takes the risk.
Example; you are an US-based restaurant and you want a banner for a promotion. You order the banner from a sign maker. The sign maker supplies banners with non-original clips. The sign maker has bought the clips from an US sign supply company that imported them from a supplier in another country. None of the involved companies, except the manufacturer, knows it is a copy since they might not have not seen the original.
In eyes of the law, it is the restaurant that has made the criminal act, using a copy of a patented clip. We could take legal action against them – but there is no logic in that, since the restaurant is not really a problem to us. We will thus ask the restaurant where they bought the banner with clips and make a test purchase. Based on this we confront the sign maker, who against being left alone will present invoice on clips from the sign supply company and we will act against them.
Wherever there are good products, there is likelihood for copying. Copiers focus on unprotected products, preferably volume products, and if they choose to copy a protected product they are likely to do it lacking knowledge about the immaterial rights of the inventor, thus being unaware of the risk they are taking.
As a user, distributor or retailer of Holdon® Clips you can feel completely secure; we act and defend our immaterial rights whenever needed. This will not only protect you from unfair competition, but it will also guarantee that you offer your customers a product that is;
- of highest quality exactly as specified
- under constant development
- produced in a responsible way; according to ISO 9000 Certifications, under strict environmental regulations, true responsible labour/human working conditions and contains only recognized, approved plastic components.
Staffan Gunnarsson, MD