028 GGP 0815

GGP August 2015

28 G L A S S & G L A S S PROCESSING Intellectual property: the key to fostering innovation Andy McDowell, commercial director at Pilkington UK, looks at the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in the glass and glazing market and the issues that Intellectual property is a topic many consider to be the domain of major technology companies, with famous disputes between the likes of Apple and Samsung having dominated the headlines of mainstream media in recent years. Yet, intellectual property is integral to any business that creates products or ideas and is particularly vital when it comes to fostering innovation. Any business that invests in research and development will be keen to ensure that both its ideas and its products are protected. The glass and glazing market is no different. Intellectual property (IP) rights are designed to ensure consumers are able to differentiate between products that may be similar in appearance, but not necessarily in product or origin, as well as providing reassurance when it comes to quality. IP rights also help to foster innovation and creativity across the industry. They encourage businesses to come up with new ideas and the next market leading product, something many are always looking to achieve, by providing reassurance that if time and money is invested in research and development this will be recouped, and more, in sales of the new product or service. Brand association Intellectual property is extremely important when it comes to the strength of a brand and it’s something we take seriously at Pilkington UK. If a customer buys a product with one of our brands associated to it, we need to ensure they are purchasing a product that has both been made by us and undergone our rigorous quality control process. By registering the names of each of our designs as trademarks, we’re able to ensure that consumers have confidence that what they are getting is the real deal. Regardless of where it is purchased, our products will always be the same design and meet the same high standards of quality. Investing in quality With our own dedicated research and development team, we make significant investments in the design and development of new products. It would be difficult to justify the cost of such investment if the products and designs we create were immediately copied by others, so it’s increasingly important that we protect our own intellectual property through the use of trademarks. Understanding trademarks Retailers are understandably keen to ensure they do not infringe the intellectual property rights of a particular brand when buying and selling goods, and trademarks are the ideal method of doing this. The fundamental purpose of a trademark is to identify the source or origin of a particular product, ensuring that consumers have certainty around the authenticity of the item they are buying. Retailers are at risk of infringing trademarks if they sell a product with a brand name that is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark, or under a name that takes unfair advantage of the reputation of a registered trademark. The penalties for using trademarks incorrectly can be severe, and retailers may be pursued with a civil claim if found to be in breach. They are also at risk of criminal prosecution should they knowingly sell counterfeit products. This illustrates how important it is for retailers to be sure they are selling genuine glass products and that the owner has consented to the marketing of the product in the EU – it’s also an infringement for retailers to sell genuine glass products in the UK if they have not been put on the market in the EU with the owner’s consent. Copycats are a cause for caution Copycat designs can pose an issue for retailers, particularly when selling decorative glass, as they need to ensure the products they are selling are not too similar to those already sold by another company. In the UK, companies and individuals can register their designs at either the UK Intellectual Property Office or the Community Designs Registry. Once registered, these designs are protected against copying and counterfeiting. This can apply to the whole or part of any given product design and includes both the three-dimensional shape and any two-dimensional surface decoration. The owner of a UK or community registered design has the exclusive right to make, use, sell, import and export products made to the design, along with the right to stop others from doing so. Industry importance With the Intellectual Property Act 2014 coming into force in October last year, it has become a criminal offence to intentionally produce either an exact copy of a registered design or a version that differs only in ‘immaterial respects’. The importance of intellectual property rights to business is demonstrated by the severe penalty facing those who are found in breach of the act, a potential 10 year prison sentence. Not only does this highlight the significance to retailers when it comes to being sure of the authenticity of the products they sell, it also demonstrates the importance of innovation to the industry and the role intellectual property plays when it comes to safeguarding creativity. can be caused by ‘copycat’ products. www.ggpmag.com August 2015


GGP August 2015
To see the actual publication please follow the link above