IP Law: Package It in Intellectual Property RightsJuly 05, 07
You’re about to present your newest and best diamond creations. Being rushed on the way to a presentation, you’ve put the diamonds in your pocket. As you walk into the presentation room – with a high level executive of a major fashion house waiting to see what you have to offer – you feel the diamonds escape your pocket.
They’ve found the hole that you had forgotten was there. Falling down your trouser leg, and emerging onto the deep plush carpet, the diamonds lie there, seeming to direct beams of light at your reddening face. Your meeting is over before it’s even begun.
In disgust, the fashion house executive rises and leaves the room. You catch the end of what he says to you under his breath… “If that’s how you protect your own property how can you even think about protecting ours?” And you know that he’s right.
I presume that your reaction to the story is one of amusement. How could anyone approach a meeting like that? Our hero was obviously excited, but he was also ill-prepared and careless when it came to the creations that could have advanced his reputation. It seems like such a simple thing: having a hole in one’s pocket and putting the diamonds there in the first place, that no one would really make that sort of mistake.
But is that really the case?
Let’s say that in this story, our young diamantaire successfully presents his new designs to the executive, who is suitably impressed. What happens next? Of course, there will be questions about the business arrangements between the diamantaire and the fashion house. The fashion house is, quite naturally, interested in having exclusive rights to the diamond designs, in all of their major markets. Our diamantaire has all the answers regarding the business issues, to the total satisfaction of the fashion house.
As discussions progress, and draft contracts are exchanged, the diamantaire begins to realize that he is promising exclusive rights to his client. This means that only his client will be legally allowed to produce his designs. He’s not sure how he can promise something like that, but if they haven’t asked him any questions about that, then they must be satisfied on that score. Right?
Wrong. The fashion house is nothing if not thorough. Our diamantaire realizes that when he opens his email one morning. In a short message, he is informed by his client that he must provide a listing of all the intellectual property rights associated with the designs that are the subject of the deal.
Just for a start, he is asked to provide details of all the registered patents, designs and trademarks associated with the products, as well as all pending patent, design and trademark applications. Dates of application, dates of renewal, and dates of expiry are also required. Of equal importance is a list of all of the jurisdictions in which these rights have been registered or for which application has been made. Copies of original documentation for each registration and application are also required.
The deal finally evaporates when a high level representative of the fashion house calls the diamantaire directly, exasperated that the requested information about the intellectual property rights has not been provided, well after the deadline, despite several reminders.
Our diamantaire doesn’t remember very much of the brief telephone conversation with the executive. But the last words of the conversation are unforgettable, and still ring in his ears. “If that’s how you protect your own interests how can you even think about protecting ours?”
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This is the seventh in a series of articles about intellectual property. Click Related Articles below for the first three articles.
Jeremy Ben-David, originally from the UK, has been involved in IP since 1985, and since 1995 has been managing partner of JMB & Co, a full service Intellectual Property firm. He can be reached by email at: jmbendavid at israel-patents.co.il.