Module 3 Week 3: Workshop Challenge

Lecture Notes
Lecture Notes 

Legal IP Framework 

Panel (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)


Tokyo Olympics: Logo Plagiarism Row (Links to an external site.)

Tokyo Olympics: Facebook Post (Links to an external site.)

Tokyo Olympics: Twitter Post (Links to an external site.)

Formula 1: Legal Battle New Logo (Links to an external site.)

Zara: Bassen vs. Zara


Key points from the discussion that I found relevant and interesting

How can legal matters affect you in design?

How do we become aware of naming and copyright issues?

There are a number of things that someone can do just to check what they are putting together doesn’t infringe anyone else’s rights. Check the UK IPO; check that no other company has this name; you can also search for logos. 

If you are drawing inspiration significantly from what someone else has done, be careful you are not copying directly. Show document development and make sure what you are coming up with is your idea. Also keep emails with dates between you and the client so that if you ever do have to refer back to these, then you can. Be organised.   

What can graphic designers do to protect that intellectual property? 

It has to be part and parcel of the whole process. 

Unregistered rights: this category of rights comes simply from the designer sitting down and producing the work. How you then protect those rights is a difficult question. Important: making sure a contract is drawn up so that the client and everyone involved knows where they stand. You have to do this from the very beginning and make it known that you understand who owns what and what you are getting for that. If something is being reproduced time and time again, do you get a one-off payment, or do you get a recurring payment? 

What we also can think about is the outside influence and if the general public will get behind something if it is already patented – e.g. the Tokyo Olympics logo.

The public option has always been there but now it is a different form. Social media and the internet are now on a global scale and it goes beyond juris diction or boundaries. How do we extend what the law says on a global scale? 

Often there is a similarity between images and sometimes there is no deception, but you are potentially exposing yourself to claims. 

Reputational damage: If your work is close to another person’s and you are working with a client, the client still doesn’t have the right to cancel the contract if their reputation is going to be damaged by the work you produced. Also, if you are partnering with a celebrity that then ruins their reputation, your product or your reputation could also be damaged.

Always make sure when entering into a client partnership exactly what the terms are and be knowledgeable about what you want from the partnership. 

The worst-case scenarios if you get caught as a designer infringing on someone else’s rights. You can be sued for a large amount of money from a large company. Some IP laws have provisions for criminal liability – e.g. DVD copying operations. People who are really rogue traders. It is unlikely you will go to jail, but the fines could get pretty substantial. 

Educate yourself about what you can do and look that the resources available in terms of law so that you can use the law to your advantage. 

My experience 

One thing that really interested me about this podcast is the topic of large brands replicating young designers’ work. This happened to me in the lingerie industry where someone copied not only the style of one of my bras but also the lace, wire and material. The only thing distinguishing theirs from mine was a tiny crystal which had been moved slightly upwards and was a slightly different in form to the one on my garment. I didn’t know what to do or whom to contact – so just watched my designs being commercially exploited by someone else.


Useful resource to decipher the terminology: Jacob, R., Alexander, D., Lane, L. (2003) Guidebook to Intellectual Property

here are a few sections of the book that give me a clear explanation of the different terminology and areas to watch out for as a designer.

My opinion: Obviously there are many different ways in which to protect your work as well as having to be very cautious you are not infringing on anyone else’s rights. I must bear in mind that each situation will be very different and unique.


My option: A good example of something that I could patent is a logo. I could patent a brand identity that I had designed to make sure that no one replicates the exact same brand. The brand will then feel confident that they are unique and they can trade safely using the logo and website etc that I have designed for them.


My opinion: Thes two different types of registration are important to bear in mind as two options when working with clients or even starting my own company. How will designers and companies protect the designs and on what scale?


So from this extract from the book I can see clearly the differences between Patenting and copywriting and in which situations I would use them both in. Copywriting is more for written works, music and perhaps large documents of research. Patenting is more for design works or art.

Patents have a duration of 20 years, Unregistered design rights last for around 10 years, registered designs last for 5 years but can be renewed for 25 years maximum, EU registered designs are 25 years as long as you continue to pay and can be created easily online.

I found this book very easy and clear to understand and studying it has allowed me to really understand the difference between the various different ways you can use to protect your work.

Workshop Challenge

The story of Laguiole knives

Where does the world-famous Laguiole knife come from? 

The answer to this might seem straightforward: from Laguiole, France, of course! But this is not the full story. The knife was a sharp folding pocketknife which was used in many ways – from cutting meat to just a handy penknife to serve a multitude of spontaneous needs. The first Laguiole knives were available in 1860 and were made by 5 local knife-makers in the town of Laguiole. They were beautifully handmade knives and were a similar style to the Yssingeaux knife. 

The popularity of the knives started to grow incrementally and although the knife makers of Laguiole were excellent tradesmen, they found that they could not compete with production methods developing in large industrial towns such as Thiers – manifested, for example, in the invention of the steam hammer. Thiers began the production of a version of the Laguiole knife and unfortunately, the knife makers of Laguiole lost a large portion of their trade as people began to buy these ‘copied’ versions instead of their own. 

Patenting the design

In 1909, Jean Camels came up with the fantastic idea of putting a small bee on the handle of the knives, making it distinguishable from the copies. However, Camels did not patent his idea and so the bee was instantly copied as well. Not only rival towns around Laguiole, but large manufacturers in e.g. China started producing and shipping back into France their versions of the Laguiole knife. The market became saturated with fakes and no one knew if they were buying an original from Laguiole or a copy from Thiers or China.  


After Thiers and China began to produce the knives, it pushed Laguiole knife makers out of business and they stopped making the knives for over 50 years. It wasn’t until 1985, thanks to the help of some Thiers inhabitants, the knife making factory came back to Laguiole and they re-started production. 

Philippe Starck

At this point in history, the famous designer Philippe Starck redesigned the knife in a style influenced by the blade shape of the ‘Yatagan’ knife. This was responsible for a boom in sales of the knife, together with wide promulgation of an associated legend: the cross adorning the handle of the knife is supposed to help lonely shepherds in their ‘burons’ to pray. 


The town of Laguiole tried to claim exclusivity for the making of the knife. Thiers did not accept this, however, claiming that they had been producing these knives for 200 years; and that they had been responsible for saving and developing the capital of the knife. Surprisingly, the quarrel did not last that long: the cutlers in both towns were able to come to an agreement – that they would each make a different model of the knife – and henceforth managed to work together in partnership. 


Unfortunately, the band Laguiole cannot be patented, as it is against the law to patent a town or place. This means that it is impossible to stop the ‘fakes’ from China from flooding into France and being sold as the real thing. Customers must be careful as the copies are bad quality and cheap.

Patenting: A bee or fly? 

The year 1909 is a landmark year in the history of Laguiole. When Jules Camels came up with the idea of putting a bee above the spring of the knife. According to legend, Napoleon himself permitted the cutlery makers to use the bee as their emblem as a sign of their bravery in combat. This, however, is sadly not the truth: in fact, the bee was added for purely aesthetic reasons. 

While putting a bee on the cutlery is undoubtedly appealing and attractive, the expression ‘la mouche’, which means a fly in French, also refers to a technical term for the flattened part of the end of the spring of a knife and it is not just Laguiole that had the idea of customising their knife with a bee or fly. Laguiole is, however, known to be the first and if the idea had been patented at the time, they would have had something real to distinguish themselves from rival and copycat brands. 

Laguiole Today 

To sum up, the decision has been made that Laguiole knives are not a brand. The name of the city cannot be legally patented. Laguiole today is a common noun. You can now say ‘give me the knife please’ or give me the Laguiole please’. Sadly, to this day, nothing prevents cheap copies from China being brought into France and sold as the real deal. It is possible to check the knives provenance: while no indication appears on the blade, you can ask for a certificate of origin or a warranty when you buy the knives 

PGI Protected Geographical Indication  

A project for protected geographical indication or PGI is in progress at the moment. This will determine a manufacturing territory, similar to patenting practice in relation to food or drink. The idea is that this territory would include both the towns Laguiole and Thiers. 

This kind of PGI would protect consumers and the makers against Asian imports and would also provide an opportunity to unite both manufacturing towns and keep the making of these knives in the country of their origin.  


Although Laguiole cannot patent their name as it is a place and you are not allowed to patent a town or city, they could have patented the unique logo and product design. This would have meant some protection for their brand image meaning that there wouldn’t be as many direct copies coming from overseas. However, having searched the internet for hours, I am still not 100% sure which Laguiole logo is the official one!  

Authenticity Certificate

It is true that now when you buy a Laguiole product, there is an authenticity certificate that comes with it so that you know you have bought a genuine article and not a copy. This is something that could have been put into place much sooner.  

Final Presentation Layout

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