Chapter 4: Designs
, it presents a challenge to intellectual property law. How should such things be protected, if at all? If a design can be thought of as a work of art, then copyright protection is perhaps appropriate. But design protection is also demanded for industrial products, especially the aspects of shape and pattern which make them distinctive. If an item is mass produced, should the designer or manufacturer be able to prevent others from producing a similar design? Should it make a difference whether the design has been copied or arrived at independently? And what sort of protection is appropriate?
One problem is that it may be difficult to separate the functional and the aesthetic aspects of a design. If something is entirely functional, like a petrol engine, but not sufficiently inventive to justify a patent, there is little reason for granting monopoly rights over it. But as soon as decorative additions turn an engine into a car, customers will start to consider appearance and design, in addition to the performance of the engine. The design features may or may not be intended for aesthetic purposes. The shape of car bodies will be determined partly with aerodynamics in mind, and partly with an eye to what the consumer will want. Consumers have grown more and more aware of design over recent decades, and style may well be the dominant factor in the purchase of basically functional articles such as furniture and lighting. As a result, manufacturers spend huge amounts of...
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