How can we protect our designs? I just opened a national magazine to find an American manufacture’s ad for a piece of furniture that I have been carrying in my showroom for the last 3 years. Once your work is featured in a magazine it becomes public domain and I find that manufactures use our designs for “inspiration” for their products. Besides being frustrated about seeing your design being reproduced under another name, what can we do? Yes we can copyright but if they change one slight detail it’s no longer protected. One thing that I have learned is before any meeting with a manufacture I usually draw up a contract that protects the designs I will be showing, making sure they don’t turn around and use them. People say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; I say it’s truly annoying.
I don’t understand why so many American manufactures use other designer’s ideas instead of just hiring that designer and having them do something custom for them. I know companies like Donghia and Baccarat have stepped up to the plate and have sued people for stealing their designs, hopefully putting the fear of God into them.
For those of you out there that are in or trying to get into product design this is a big question. What does everyone think about imitation? Do you have any ideas on how to protect yourself and your designs? Have any of you dealt with this? What happened to you?