Protection of an idea

Many people think that they obtain copyright protection for an idea by putting it in writing and submitting this to an online register like CCproof. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.An idea must have materialized for something to become 'a work'. If the work is also an intellectual creation, it may be copyrighted. An online “registration” of the idea can never be more than a piece of evidence.


Claimant submitted his idea, being 'clothing with real money (banknotes) stitched onto it' with CC Proof. He submits a drawing of a cap with a banknote on it together with the tagline: “Money rules the world”. When defendant organizes a raffle where a T-shirt can be won with a five-hundred Euro bill stitched onto it, claimant argues that this constitutes an infringement of his copyright, based on the drawing registered with CC Proof.

Court deals with this quickly. A mere idea cannot be protected and the submitted drawing has not materialized sufficiently. That does not constitute a copyrighted work. The claim is rejected.

Suppose an idea does work out, can it be smart to record it? Yes indeed. Many copyright cases are also often about when a work has been created. If a worked-out idea satisfies copyright requirements, it can be a good idea if there is independent proof from a third party when this idea was worked out. An i-Depot is one of the most commonly used forms for this, developped by the Benulux Office for Identical Property (BOIP).

The advantage is that BOIP is an independent public organisation (rather than a private one). An i-Depot will have a filing date and is then kept registrerd for 5 years. After this, the retention period can be extended indefinitely by 5 years. In principle, the work is kept secret, unless the creator wishes all or part of it to be made public (in order to sell it, for example, but this leaves the door open for people to get hold of the idea, so we advise against doing it this way).

Should an issue arise about since when an idea has been developed, the i-Depot can be a good solution to prove this. One more note: the fact that a work is registered as i-Depot says nothing about whether the submitted piece is copyrighted, that will be determined in court. It is really only a piece of evidence that the idea/work was submitted in this form at the time.


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?