Chapter 6: Expressive dimensions of design: a question of incentive?
Design plays a significant role in modern culture. Intellectual property (IP) protection of industrial design, however, remains a challenge to scholars and policy-makers. This chapter considers two attributes of product designand explores their relevance in terms of IP law. These attributes – capacity for information spillover and expressive dimensions – will be discussed in turn. The operation of these attributes is illustrated in the context of the fashion industry. This industry deviates from the standard exclusionary IP model, in that it functions largely on a shared knowledge basis and, at the same time, places little reliance on IP laws. This type of model would, according to classical IP theory, result in a lack of incentive to create. An explanation for the fact that this does not occur in the fashion industry is sought in the effect of self- and social expression, expressive dimensions which facilitate important processes relating to the consumption of goods. Visual imagery has become predominant in modern culture. One of the main reasons for this is that modern technology has provided tools that allow the handling of digital images with increasing ease. As never before in human history, visual images can be viewed, created, copied, manipulated, searched and broadcast. Ubiquity and widespread access to images and designs, in turn, spawns further creation. The twenty-first century has become a ‘visual age’, an age in which visual images have come to play a significant cultural and economic role.
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