In a recent edition of the nation's favourite soap, Coronation Street, a small incident occurred which illustrated in a nutshell the problems facing the deviser of an industrial design in seeking to protect that design from being copied. Angie, a student of fashion design at the local polytechnic put on a successful show of her designs. Emboldened by the favourable reception she set out a couple of days later for an appointment with a local dress manufacturer to try and sell her designs. She returned a few hours later in tears and with hopes dashed. She had arrived at the firm only to discover that her designs were already being made up into dresses. The designs had been copied at the show and already sold to or copied by them. The incident was not without its silver lining in that in getting drunk to forget the whole sad affair this lead to a romantic interlude with fellow lodger, Curley Watts! It is the purpose of this article to examine the main strands of protection for industrial designs and to look at a proposed new European Community Design Law which has recently been published by the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law (Munich, 1991). This proposal is being put to the EC Commission as the basis for an EC Regulation.
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