It’s a truism that there’s no copyright in an idea, but did you know that a design can be register? Even the design of an ice cream van…
Registration means the owner’s rights are protected, and no-one else in the UK or Europe (depending on the type of registration you go for) can use that design.
A recent case held that even an ice cream van can infringe another’s design right. Of course, most of the form of an ice cream van is dictated by function, and no-one can claim a monopoly over that, but nonetheless, there were certain unique aspects to the claimant’s van that the defendant had been found to infringe.
The judge concluded although the differences between the two vans were small, overall the vans were substantially similar and so he found there was an infringement.
The infringing parties were liable to pay damages and, of course, could not continue to use the infringing design of van.
This just goes to show, when it comes to marketing and promotion, a business cannot be too careful and, certainly before spending heavily on a new logo or get-up, a business should always check what’s out there already.
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This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at August 2015.