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 Knowledge Quiz Designs

The plaintiff specializes in online sales of children's bicycles. In safeguarding its rights, the company has registered the design of these bicycles under Community Design. Through a multiple design registration, the company secures the rights for 10 new versions of its children's bicycles simultaneously under Community Design. Subsequently, when the defendant introduces a similar bicycle, legal proceedings ensue. Among the various claims, the plaintiff alleges infringement of its design rights, which in turn is contested by the defendant. A design must possess novelty and individual character. The defendant states that the design lacks novelty, as elements of this design are already present in various existing bicycles. Essentially, the defendant's bicycles reproduce these elements, resulting in a lack of individual character. According to the defendant, the community designs are thus invalid. Even If the plaintiff's designs should be valid, the defendant argues that its bicycle deviates sufficiently. The defendant argues that the plaintiff has sought protection for more or less similar designs in the multiple design registration. Apparently, the plaintiff believes that these designs differ enough to create a different overall impression. The defendant's bicycles deviate just as much, thus creating a different overall impression (the so-called doctrine of equivalents argument). The question arises: are the plaintiff's bicycles valid designs despite comprising known aspects from various bicycles, or does the defendant's design exhibit sufficient deviation, thereby enabling the invocation of the doctrine of equivalents concerning the multiple design registration? The court determines that designers of children's bicycles enjoy considerable freedom in their designs. Consequently, if another bicycle lacks significant distinctions, it will quickly evoke a similar overall impression for the informed user, thereby lacking individual character. The comparison is drawn between the new design (the AMIGO bicycles from T.O.M.) and an older existing design (bicycle). To prove that a design is not new, you cannot, as Prijskiller (the defendant) asserts, mosaic together various elements. Therefore, as a defendant, you cannot argue that a design is not new because its characteristics are present in various different products (see also the judgment Karen Millen). If, as a designer, you combine different aspects from multiple designs for the first time into a new product, then this is simply a new and valid design. This is the case with the AMIGO bicycle. The design is upheld as valid. The AMIGO Magic bicycle features a unique tubular frame, rendering it novel. The bicycle is further distinguished by the name MAGIC, the chain guard design, and accessories such as a basket, handlebar streamers, and doll seat. Prijskiller contends that its frame shape differs (being thicker) and that the drawings are positioned differently. Additionally, Prijskiller highlights the distinct color scheme; however, TOM has registered the designs in line drawings, thus disregarding this element in the evaluation. Nevertheless, several similarities are apparent. Both bicycles exhibit an almost identical pattern of butterflies and flowers, positioned nearly identically on the frame. Furthermore, the name MAGIC is depicted in the same font and placement on the chain guard. Consequently, this bicycle fails to evoke a different overall impression for the informed user. The designer's extensive creative freedom in designing children's bicycles means that the differences highlighted by Prijskiller are minor and inconspicuous. Prijskiller's invocation of the doctrine of equivalents is likewise dismissed. The court opines that this case pertains to models concurrently deposited by T.O.M. This circumstance precludes the invocation of the "doctrine of equivalents" because, in compliance with the regulations regarding novelty, individual character, and the grace period, the various models cannot diminish each other's novelty or individual character, nor their scope of protection. In essence, in simultaneous (multiple) deposits, the "doctrine of equivalents" holds little significance. Consequently, these 2Cycle Magic bicycles fail to impart a different overall impression for the informed user. The designer's extensive freedom in designing children's bicycles and the minor differences highlighted by Prijskiller render the infringement claim upheld.