Home  Contact Us
  Follow Us On:
Advertising Advertising Free Newsletter Free E-Newsletter
      2024       2023       2022       2021       2020       2019       2018       2017       2016       2015       2014       2013       2012       2011       2010       2009       2008

IPR: How to Protect Interior Design of Shops in China
Share to

How to Protect Interior Design of Shops in China

By China IPR Helpdesk

BT 201612 IPR 01 d01fc9ce6e327dbcb5499343cbacc32aWhen Brent Hoberman, founder of online interior design and furniture store Mydeco.com made a trip to China, one man was particularly keen to meet him. When they met, the man explained that he wanted to launch a web business but had no idea how to do it until he learned about Mydeco.com and copied it. He only wished to express his appreciation personally to Mr. Hoberman.

In 2011 the residents of Kunming, a city in South-Western region of China were delighted to find an IKEA shop in their town. The copycat store is an enormous, multi-level shop that sells modern IKEA-like furniture and even copies the distinctive blue and yellow branding. The residents realized it was a fake but have little choice as the closest authentic IKEA is in Chongqing, 940km away.

BT 201612 IPR 014 the latest interior design magazine zailaus nightstand lamp size nightstand lamp with outlet in base 979x1024Store layouts, colours and designs become synonymous with a brand, so imitation of a store interior is very damaging to companies. At times it is increasingly difficult to separate the real from the fake.

There is a saying in China - 山高皇帝远, which means the mountains are high and the emperor is far away. It is a saying that perfectly encapsulates the reason why counterfeiting still happens in China, particularly in faraway places such as Kunming.

For companies which focus on interior design of shops, there are three types of intellectual property protection laws available to businesses - trade dress, copyright and design patents.

Trade dress covers the theme and elements of interior design of a commercial space. It must be unique with distinctive characteristics so as to be able to signify the source to consumers. It is contentious as to whether a design is source designating or just decorative and this is usually determined by the reaction of customers. So if a theme is not distinctive, then it is necessary to show that the interior design has become distinctive in the minds of consumers who associate it with the source. China’s Anti-unfair Competition Law provides some protection for unregistered trade dress, as well as trademarks, packaging and trade secrets.

BT 201612 IPR 02 nature furniture design nature and design booktree best decorationCopyright covers instructions, architectural designs and industrial and graphic designs. Unlike patent and trademark protection, copyrighted works do not require registration for protection. China grants protection to people from countries belonging to international copyright conventions of which China is a member. However, copyright owners may wish to register voluntarily with China’s National Copyright Administration (NCA) to establish evidence of ownership, should enforcement action become necessary.

Design patents cover ornamental designs of functional items, such as furniture. Unlike in Europe, no protection is offered to unregistered designs in China and it is a first-to-file jurisdiction. On top of that designs must be novel. This means the design cannot have been disclosed to the public before the application is filed, otherwise it could be invalidated later. Therefore if you plan to apply for a design patent in China, do make sure that your design is treated as a trade secret and not made public in any country before the application has been submitted.

Despite imitation being the highest form of flattery, the number of counterfeit shops is diminishing and there is greater emphasis on the need for creativity and authenticity. Chinese consumers are more discerning and affluent than ever before and want to display that by buying genuine, not fake, products. This at least should inspire some confidence in European businesses that might be thinking about entering China and reassure them that if they put in place the right IP strategy then it will more often than not pay off.


    Subscription    |     Advertising    |     Contact Us    |
Address: Magnetic Plaza, Building A4, 6th Floor, Binshui Xi Dao.
Nankai District. 300381 TIANJIN. PR CHINA
Tel: +86 22 23917700
E-mail: webmaster@businesstianjin.com
Copyright 2024 BusinessTianjin.com. All rights reserved.