Intellectual Property: A Key Element in the Design Process

By Nicola Giles and Alan Mumby.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

If we are to believe that intellectual property rights are important to the innovative and competitive nature of design conscious businesses, why then are so many of the UK’s SMEs ignoring their right to use them? Is it because they regard intellectual property rights as an expensive add-on to their business that they can ill-afford to acquire let alone enforce, or is it simply because they have a limited understanding of the various intellectual property rights? This paper will focus on the experiences of three companies based in Wales that went against the trend and did not ignore intellectual property, but instead made it a key element in their new product development design process. Along with receiving assistance in the development of a design brief and PDS (Product Design Specification) from Design Wales, all three companies also received advocacy on the importance of intellectual property in the design process, a further element of the Design Wales service. In addition to working with Design Wales, each company worked with an external design consultancy to achieve their design objectives; a collaboration which was initiated and supported by Design Wales. The paper will discuss how intellectual property was incorporated into the design process, along with the issues that each company encountered and how problems were overcome. Each case study will focus on a different intellectual property right, namely patents, design rights and trade marks; similarities and differences between the rights in terms of accessibility will be investigated and the impact these factors had on the design process. Design Wales is a Welsh Assembly Government initiative whose main objective is to raise the profile of the effective use of design and facilitate Welsh companies in realising and achieving their design related objectives.

Keywords: Design Process, Intellectual Property, New Product Development, SME, Patent, Trade Mark, Design Right

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.173-182. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.184MB).

Nicola Giles

Researcher, Design Wales, Cardiff, UK

Nicola Giles has worked as a researcher at Design Wales for the past eight years. During this time she has worked with SMEs requiring intellectual property advice. Nicola has an LL.M in Innovation, Technology & the Law, specialising in intellectual property law, from the University of Edinburgh. Design Wales provides a free and independent advisory service to Welsh industry.

Alan Mumby

Operations Manager, Design Wales, Cardiff, UK

As a designer Alan has been assisting innovation design inclined SMEs for over fifteen years, both as a Design Wales advisor and in a previous capacity as a Research Fellow based at The National Centre for Product Design & Development Research (PDR). Alan also holds a Masters in Business and Enterprise Development.


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