Many elements of package design can be protected with intellectual property law. Do-it-yourself designs need not apply.
Together with do-it-yourself logos, they rarely qualify as great IP or easily stand up to legal attack in our experience.
So if IP law thinks they are rubbish why invest in them?
With only a few exceptions, it's false economy to cut costs by designing yourself.
Take for example the evolution of our firm's logo. The short story for its development is that I wanted something to represent the integrated nature of the six fields of work of our firm. What I came up with was a box shape with integrated brackets, which a specialist logo designer perfected for a fee. I was happy, but not 100%. An artist friend I consulted, Gary Diermendjian, suggest I invert the box. The box now became a diamond. This design evolution was the result of a collaboration with experts, not a do-it-yourself, close enough is good enough effort.
Spending on professionals and taking extra effort is rewarded by the law.
Professionals have a keener eye on what might be special or unique in their field of speciality.
Copyright, patent, design and trade mark law respectively protect work which is original, inventive and non-obvious or otherwise innovative, distinctive, or in the case of registered trade marks - capable of distinguishing the marked product or services.
It should not be surprising that poor packaging is at the heart of a great deal of IP litigation relating to package knock-offs. It is poor in this context when:
it is legally ineffective design work, or
the design work or protectable elements are not properly registered or legally protected.
These disputes become costly and lengthy cases because usually there are some arguments in favour of each side. Great designs, especially those supported with professional advice, are on a pedestal, standing above competitors, usually legally as well.
At a certain point good package design melds into good product design.
The two strengthen each other. Witness the excitement with which people lovely unwrap packaging, eg from perfume and speciality coffee companies. It's not sensible to put effort into providing a great product or service and then cut costs in its presentation.
Those who seek to infringe and get as close as possible to successful packaging or product designs are often smart enough to avoid designs on a pedestal, with IP radiating from them.
The point is succinctly stated in this title - It's better to design your IP than IP your design. More has been said in recent months about the many benefits of legally effective packaging:
So it was a pleasure today to scroll through The Dieline's Top 100 Package Designs of 2011.
After you too do that, consider how your packaging might be made legally more effective. Perhaps read What trade mark professionals do. Then call or write if you want an obligation free conversation about making your designs legally effective.