Blockchain applications for securing IP in design
The IP right system for the design industry
Awareness of the importance and value of IP is growing throughout the whole sector. Designers realize that unauthorized copying may have a major impact on their bottom line and reputation. Proper IP rights management can limit risk and enhance the competitiveness of all types of businesses in the fashion industry, from independent couturier to global companies. However, designs and fashion designs in particular enjoy a smaller degree of protection under intellectual property law when compared to the industrial and technological sector. The short life cycle of products, and the low technological barriers for copycats are adding to the complexity. While the protection provided by the current legal system is valuable, copyright, trademarks and unregistered design rights are not always effective as they can be difficult to prove and, therefore, enforce.
Blockchain applications for securing designs
The blockchain, being a decentralized and immutable record, can be leveraged by designers (in furniture, arts, jewelry, …) to create a permanent evidence of their creatorship. Consequently, associated intellectual property rights can be claimed and enforced reliably at any stage and in any country, including actions against counterfeit products.
RECORDS OF THE DESIGN PROCESS
Whether you are presenting or defending a claim, a clear and indisputable record of the design process is critical in copyright and design disputes. Public blockchains could be used to create solid evidence for the whole design process. For example, to prove precisely when a specific feature was added to an existing design and by whom. The main advantage of using a public blockchain compared to a private database is that the design process timeline is registered on a global and decentralized infrastructure, representing a much stronger evidence for court or registry proceedings, or for obtaining statutory damages in case of design infringements. Blockchain applications will enable designers to document every step in the design process, providing unalterable proof of creation in case of a dispute. — Jeffrey H. Greene, Fenwick & West, The fashion law
EVIDENCE OF USE & REPUTATION
The blockchain can also be used to create solid proofs of use for trademarks. This can be achieved by registering advertising, marketing and sales documentation to create real-time and undisputed evidence of where and when a trademark is used. Such collection of proofs of use will save significant time and money in all processes associated with renewing and defending a trademark in disputes and invalidity actions. The same approach can be leveraged to prove the reputation of brands, allowing for a broader scope of protection across multiple categories. Registering documents illustrating the market share, the geographical extent and the promotional investments could make the difference in disputes and court decisions.