“Protecting innovation by means of industrial design: an alternative to patenting” was the title chosen for the AFM Cluster webinar featuring Pablo Calvo, ABG IP’s Partner in the Department of Engineering and Physics, and Iain McGeoch, Associate and Manager at our Basque Country branch. The event took place on 23 November and brought together a large group of professionals from the advanced and digital manufacturing sector in Spain.
Juanjo Gómez, Manager of Partners AFM Cluster, made the welcome address and introduced the online seminar, after which Iain McGeoch offered a brief review of the current state of industrial property, paying special attention to the central figure of the talk.
“The industrial design is a less extended form of protection than the classic patent and trademark, and it is underused in Spain. However, according to a joint macro-study by the European Patent Office and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, companies with assets protected by industrial designs have more employees, higher revenue per employee and their workers have better wages than those without such rights,” Iain stated in his introduction.
Industrial designs: cheaper and faster than patents
Pablo Calvo, Patent Attorney, holds a similar view and stressed in his presentation that the costs for obtaining protection for industrial designs are much lower than those for obtaining a patent. He also noted that they have a faster processing time.
“For European designs, we have had cases at ABG that were processed and granted on the same day. This means that we can file both a notice and a claim against a third party that is copying us within 24 hours. This is how fast and efficient it is,” Pablo said.
In this vein, the Dr in Industrial Engineering (PhD) and Patent Agent also highlighted that, with regard to infringement cases, the compensation for damages in industrial designs can be the same as for patents. Going a step further, the incalculable value of the exclusivity right conferred by both forms and which serves to prevent the entry of competitors in the market is also similar.
Recommended strategy: patent or design?
After the comparison, Pablo clarified that patents and industrial designs are compatible and accumulable. Therefore, they are forms that can be held simultaneously as they protect different aspects of the same product. Moreover, as he noted, there is the possibility of postponing the publication of designs.
“It is common to apply for an industrial design for a product for which we are also filing a patent application and, until the latter has been filed, that design must remain private. It happens that in the case of the Community Design, the law allows us to delay publication for up to 30 months, thus having full control over its disclosure,” the expert pointed out.
ABG Intellectual Property has been AFM Cluster’s partner since 2020. This organisation comprises five associations with more than 500 industrial companies dedicated to advanced and digital manufacturing in Spain. From its headquarters in San Sebastian, it offers services in the areas of internationalisation, technology, marketing and communication, people, institutional cooperation and relationships. The ecosystem represented by AFM Cluster invoices over €3,000 per year and generates more than 16,500 direct jobs.