Design Protection 101: Everything You Need to Know

When you have a design idea or have spent hours or even months perfecting your design, it’s natural to want to protect your copyright. Even if you’re not planning on making money off the design, this is still an important step.

Design protection ensures that people can’t steal your work and make money off of it without giving you credit or paying you for the rights. It also provides the legal framework for how others can use, copy and modify your work in specific ways when they contact you.

If you want to explore design protection, such as when, where, and how you should copyright your design, you can enlist the help of an experienced IP lawyer.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a set of detailed laws that protect original works, such as poetry, music, books, movies, software, and designs. Copyright law is a shield to protect your idea from others who try to take credit for your design or infringe on your rights by copying, distributing, or selling it for profit.

It provides you with legal protection against third parties who would try to use or sell your work without proper compensation. If someone steals your work, you can use copyright law to prevent them before it goes too far, or your attorney can pursue it for you to obtain monetary damages.

When should you copyright your design?

You have the option to copyright your design at a moment’s notice. There are a few reasons why you might consider copyrighting your idea:

  • To protect it from being copied without your permission by others. 
  • To prevent someone from using your name or logo in a way you didn’t intend while maintaining the integrity of the design. 
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When should you not copyright your design?

You should never copyright a design idea before you’re finished with it. You can only protect the finished product of your work at this stage, not the opinion or sketch. However, it’s worth noting that copyright protection doesn’t begin until the idea is fixed in some tangible way.

Not all designs are created equal, and some types of designs don’t necessarily need to be copyrighted. So, it’s essential to ensure that you have an idea of the type of work you’re creating before trying to protect it.

How to copyright your design

The first step to protecting your design is to register it properly. There are two types of copyright protection you can apply for.

Statutory copyright is automatic when you create the work and doesn’t require registration with the government office. Under statutory copyright, you won’t have legal recourse against someone using your work or selling it without permission.

The other option is plain vanilla copyrights. These are the most common types of copyright protection registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. To register a work under plain vanilla copyright, you must show that you are the work’s author and did not infringe on someone else’s copyright.

Wrap up

The first thing you should do when completing your product design or original work protects it. IP lawyers are a great resource to ensure all your design protection needs are fulfilled. 

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