Top Tips for protecting your ideas

The world of design is a world full of innovation but it can also be a world of pitfalls if the design process is not done correctly.


The world of design is a world full of innovation, but it is a world of pitfalls and mishaps if the design process is not done correctly. There are many things to consider and one key consideration that is very easy to overlook is that there are a whole host of pre-existing patents and design rights held by others. Some of these might compromise your freedom to work or gain protection for your own creations.

Here are a few things you should consider before getting too stuck into the design process:

1. Research before you spend

As protection is often sought for even minor innovations, there is a maze of patent and design rights to be navigated. These existing rights can potentially stand in the way of a product you intend to bring to market, though in some cases it may be possible to work around them and even supersede them. Seeking advice during the development phase of a product can often identify potentially problematic patents and/or registered designs. In some cases this can save significant amounts of time and money being wasted in redundant development and tooling.  

2. Idea protection

Patents are used to set out ownership of the intellectual property defining a product or process. They do not prevent third parties from copying your idea and work but they do give legal ownership and form the basis of a legal case to deal with an infringement. Deciding upon the right time to file a patent for your product can be tricky.  But timing is crucial – if you file too early in the design process there may be insufficient information available for a strong application, too late and a third party may develop a similar product and seek a patent before you.  Contacting a patent attorney early in the design process can help identify the best time to file protection for your innovation.

3. Protect the appearance

In conjunction with a patent application you may wish to consider looking into design rights to protect the appearance of your product. A design right may also be filed if your product is a new development which is not sufficiently innovative but has an original appearance or innovative but does not have an original appearance.

4. Marking your brand

To help your product stand out to consumers, it is important to create a distinctive name and logo. These identify you in the same way as a signature and you may decide you need to prevent others from trying to be seen as you. Therefore it is important to consider registering these as a trademark, but before you finalise a name or logo you should establish that it is allowed or you may end wasting time and money with alterations or even ending up in court.

All of the above should be considered and referred to at key points throughout the design process in order to ensure the transition from your initial design idea into the marketplace runs as smoothly as possible.  If you would like more information about how you could benefit from our insight then please contact us.