Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright
Like Tree6Likes

Thread: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15
  1. #1
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    216

    Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    I'm not an attorney. Anyone who is seriously concerned about these matters should consult an experienced patent or copyright attorney as appropriate. Those things said ...

    Many/most people seem to think that intellectual property protection laws were devised to allow creators to lock up their creations forever. This is not true. The reality is that the IP protection laws are intended to encourage the placement in the public domain of as many creations as possible as early as is feasible. The reasoning is as follows ...

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    An absence of IP laws is presumed to have a chilling effect on creators. After all, why should someone work hard to create something new that's of wide interest to the public if there's not going to be anything in it for the creator?

    So to encourage as many people as possible to develop as much new stuff for the public as possible, the IP laws grant the developer (regular patent), industrial designer (design patent) or writer/artist (copyright) an exclusive -- but time limited -- monopoly on the use of his creations. After the expiration of the protection for a particular item, that item becomes public, not private, IP and anyone is free to use it without having to be licensed by the creator.

    So ...

    My Timex analog quartz wristwatch looks almost exactly like a certain Rolex mechanical model of sixty years ago. (Click on the link in my signature.) The "design patent" for Rolex's product -- the look-and-feel patent -- will have expired long ago. Thus what Timex did was and is perfectly legal since they are not claiming that the watch is a Rolex, only that it's a Timex.

    And now the reason for the expiration of the monopoly -- the benefit to the public -- is clear. Without it I could never hope to legitimately own a watch of the beautiful design of the old Rolex model. However, I paid a price for that benefit -- I had to wait for many years to go by while those who could afford Rolexes got to enjoy the look as soon as they decided to buy.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Now ...

    Do you feel that that the kind of thing that Timex did is ethical (as opposed to illegal)?

    If yes, why? If no, why not?

    When is this kind of thing acceptable in your eyes? When isn't it?

    Mind you, I'm not talking about the state of the law -- that's essentially settled. Instead I'm asking what watch collectors feel is acceptable in polite company, so to speak.
    Last edited by xxmikexx; February 19th, 2013 at 14:24.

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    1,083

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    I've made this point on threads about homages before. The patent monopoly is in and of itself harmful -- allowing the patent holder to sell at a higher price than would otherwise clear the market because they have the exclusive right to sell a product. But we see the patent as a necessary evil because that encourages innovation. As societies we've decided on various time durations for this necessary evil to exist, but the point is, once it lapses, it's actually better for the average consumer to have 'generics' available (the same way generic drugs are actually seen as beneficial, although of course pharma companies have a perhaps legitimate bone to pick with how quickly they can come to market).

    When some members criticize Rolex Sub homages this is what I think of. The design is a classic, and making it available at all price points (from Steinhart at $500 or so to MK II at $1-2k) is great for those who want to enjoy a great looking watch without shelling out Rolex's (arguably inflated) prices.

    All in all I think we should accept that when a patent expires it's fair game to use a design, and I'm not a believer in this "fake people wear fake watches" thing or that it's somehow a moral failing to wear an homage rather than the real thing. The kind of judgment that lies behind that is just a thinly veiled form of elitism, mixed with a healthy dollop of self-justification. As I've said before: the people who designed the Rolex Sub are dead or retired. The 'creators' themselves no longer benefit, just the corporate form that owns the design. So who are we morally rewarding (or wrongly hurting) at this point by wearing an homage, especially given that it's legally permissible? The fantasy of having the "real thing" is, one must always remember, an intuition that inures primarily to their benefit and their bottom line.

  3. #3
    Banned
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Middle of Hurricane Alley
    Posts
    21,244

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    It depends on the country etc. As I wrote in a previous thread, Mercedes Benz has made sure all copies/homages of any of their cars, will be destroyed if ever they show up in Germany. Not the whole car, but just the parts that are originally "as designed by MB", but typically the body.

    Making homages/copies of a watch design shows lack of design talent, and/or a way to cash in on somebody else's success.
    Last edited by Janne; February 19th, 2013 at 15:18.

  4. Remove Advertisements
    WatchUSeek.com
    Advertisements
     

  5. #4
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,771

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    We've been over this many times and this thread will be closed if it becomes a fakes discussion.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  6. #5
    Member bluloo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    NJ, USA
    Posts
    6,157

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    So-called ethics have little to do with the broader marketplace. If there's consumer demand for a generic version of an expired IP-based product, at a lower price point, someone will exploit the niche, for their profit.

    People get emotional about it because it encroaches on some of the warm-n-fuzzy motivators for their purchase of the original product, and dilutes the perceived returns, both socially and psychologically.

    Both responses are "normal".

    When generics get too close to existing deisgn by emulating existing features such as dial text that has no real relationship to the product ("chronometer" comes to mind), it may (or may not) be legal, but it's pretty cheesy as well as bordering on sleazy. At that point, it tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak, and turns me off to that particular product iteration.

    While there is room, IMO, for stylistic choices (e.g. the "circle T" and "upward pointing arrow" often seen on old military divers, though the current military-styled diver containes neither Tritium nor is military issued), I think what's deemed generally acceptable depends on the extent to which it's seen in the broader marketplace, the length of time since the original has ceased production, and/or the length of time that's passed since the original IP protection has lapsed.

    That means it may be unfair for the first adopter of expired iP or iconic design elements otherwise associated with features absent on a current generic product.

    Anyhow, this one seems to push a lot of hot buttons for people, both pro and con.

  7. #6
    Member waterdude's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Appalachian apple country
    Posts
    5,106

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    It depends on the country etc. As I wrote in a previous thread, Mercedes Benz has made sure all copies/homages of any of their cars, will be destroyed if ever they show up in Germany. Not the whole car, but just the parts that are originally "as designed by MB", but typically the body.

    Making homages/copies of a watch design shows lack of design talent, and/or a way to cash in on somebody else's success.
    Despite our romantic notions about innovation, I would argue that these talentless homage makers, or copiers of (fill in the blank), are the true crucks of capitialsim, and the only reason that 99.9% of us have a job. If I were reliant on my own ability to innovate, or also the employment of an true innovator; I dare say that I'd be unemployed. That said, I enjoy an original thought as much as the next guy... to the extent that very many original thoughts even still exist.
    Shepperdw likes this.

  8. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    7,004

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    We assume that the phrase "promoting innovation" applies to the value received by the creator during the protection period as being the incentive. But, actually, the greater incentive to innovate is that the patent holder knows that his exclusivity will run out, so he must innovate in order to protect his market share.

    Rolex comes out with new designs from time to time so that it will be obvious that those who are imitating the older public-domain design are not current. That doesn't work so well when the market prefers old-looking stuff, as it seems to presently.

    The problem with respect to watches is that there is very little new art to be achieved, particularly in regards to look and feel. I suspect most IP in the mechanical watch world has to do with production technologies rather than movement designs or look-and-feel patents. Thus, the value is in style and craftsmanship.

    One of the reasons that the art of watch-making progressed as quickly as it did is because of the limitation on patent laws.

    We should remember that before patent laws, there were no protections. And patents were originally a way for Kings to grant exclusivity to their favored suppliers. When democratic processes replaced monarchic rule, patent laws emerged to codify those practices, particularly to find a transparent balance between the reward due to a creator and the need for a growing economy to assimilate new technologies quickly.

    For example, Carl Zeiss patented the Tessar lens, but licensed its production widely (including, for example, to Bausch and Lomb in the U.S.). It was seen as a successful patent because it was written broadly enough to encompass many potential competing designs. Did that make it wrong for Joseph Schneider to invent the Xenar, which is just different enough to avoid infringement? No--that caused more and greater innovation, which is precisely the intent of having such laws. But the design really took off when the patent expired, leading to such highlights of optical development as the Kodak Commercial Ektar (which was based on the tessar design). Meanwhile, Zeiss was forced to invent the anti-reflection coatings necessary to make their double-gauss design work, and the result of that was the Planar, which was the Next Big Thing after the tessar patent expired. So, the protection encouraged innovation from competitors to build a concept more broadly rather than just appropriating it, and the deadline on protection encouraged its owner to continue to innovate as a means of protecting their new market share. And the expiration of the patent allowed others to take that design to new heights and in new directions. That's a case where it all worked as it is supposed to.

    Copyrights are different. Their protection periods have been growing and growing, seemingly providing unending protection for those with the clout to lobby for extending them. (Mickey Mouse is the guiding force behind much of what has happened to copyright law in the last decade or so.) The U.S. used to have short copyright periods, but have lengthened them first (in 1979) to harmonize with more common international law, and then more recently to keep up with Mickey.

    Rick "hoping to get this in before Ray has to close the thread" Denney
    Last edited by Rdenney; February 19th, 2013 at 18:57.
    bluloo likes this.
    Zenith: Captain Chronograph 03.2110.400*; Cartier: Santos 100 XL Concord: Mariner, C1 Big-Date, C1 v.2 Chronograph; Ebel: Chronosport 1134901, Tekton 9137L83*, Type E 9137C41* (*=COSC)
    Ebel: 1911 BTR 9137L73* and 9139L71*, 1911 1120L41*, 1911 Senior 9080241, Brasilias 9120M41 (2), Aquatica 500 9120K61, Classic Hexagon GMT 9301F61, Classic 100 LE 9120R41; Baume & Mercier: Capeland World-Timer
    Heuer: Carrera 1964 Re-Edition CS3110; Maurice Lacroix: Masterpiece MP6439; "Seagull": 1963 Reissue cal. ST19; Seiko: Black Monster SRP307; Poljot: Sturmanskie cal. 3133; Tissot: T-Touch Lew and Huey: Acciona
    Vintage: JLC: ref. 2953, ca. 1946; Longines: Flagship cal 285; Zodiac: SST cal. 86, Aerospace GMT cal. 72; Favre-Leuba: cal. 253; Tianjin: Dong Feng cal. ST5; Elgin: Gr. 152 (1898), Gr. 384 (1919); Ebel: ca. 1962 ref. 9214955
    WUS: ST5 Project Watches (Black and Blue), F72.2014.DG3804 (Gray and Cream); Swatch: Sistem 51 Blue; TNT: Rattrapante cal. Rochat 7750+RAT-1

  9. #8
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    21,205

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    Many/most people seem to think that intellectual property protection laws were devised to allow creators to lock up their creations forever. This is not true. The reality is that the IP protection laws are intended to encourage the placement in the public domain of as many creations as possible as early as is feasible. The reasoning is as follows ...
    I have yet to read of someone on WUS who believes that IP laws were designed to lock up creations (presumably watch features, brand names and logos) forever. Could you point me to a thread that makes that statement?


    An absence of IP laws is presumed to have a chilling effect on creators. After all, why should someone work hard to create something new that's of wide interest to the public if there's not going to be anything in it for the creator?
    Again, who is making such an assertion?

    So to encourage as many people as possible to develop as much new stuff for the public as possible, the IP laws grant the developer (regular patent), industrial designer (design patent) or writer/artist (copyright) an exclusive -- but time limited -- monopoly on the use of his creations. After the expiration of the protection for a particular item, that item becomes public, not private, IP and anyone is free to use it without having to be licensed by the creator.
    Yup. Common knowlege on WUS from everything I have read.

    My Timex analog quartz wristwatch looks almost exactly like a certain Rolex mechanical model of sixty years ago. (Click on the link in my signature.) The "design patent" for Rolex's product -- the look-and-feel patent -- will have expired long ago. Thus what Timex did was and is perfectly legal since they are not claiming that the watch is a Rolex, only that it's a Timex.

    And now the reason for the expiration of the monopoly -- the benefit to the public -- is clear. Without it I could never hope to legitimately own a watch of the beautiful design of the old Rolex model. However, I paid a price for that benefit -- I had to wait for many years to go by while those who could afford Rolexes got to enjoy the look as soon as they decided to buy.
    Back then Timex could have done what many other watch companies have been doing since they started making watches. They could have used stylistic features that Rolex and many other companies have used in their time keepers. A classic example is the so-called Mercedes hands mistakenly associated by many with Rolex. That design was used for decades before Rolex picked it up in 8 day travel clocks, pocket watches, aircraft instruments, etc. So you did not have to wait decades for an approved IP filing to expire. You simply had to wait for someone to decide there was a market for the design you are looking for. What Timex is not allowed to do is use the tradename and logo of Rolex.

    Could you point me to the design patent for the entire Rolex watch that you are referring to? My understanding as a non-patent-attorney is that it is very difficult to patent or trademark an entire design in part because most features get reused over and over. Completely new and innovative designs are rare. Watchmakers, car manufaturers, dress designers and others in the fashion industry follow one anothers lead for designs that work like hungry sheep.
    Last edited by John MS; February 19th, 2013 at 19:17.

  10. #9
    Member ljb187's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    USA/Thailand
    Posts
    5,038

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    Just about the first thing you learn in school is that you shouldn't copy other people's work. That applies to six year olds and international companies alike. What I don't get is that Timex has a history that's much longer than Rolex's; they don't need to look to them (or any other outside designs) for homages. If you go to Timex's site and click just four times you arrive at this great looking dive-style watch from their own Originals collection:

    Attachment 978787

    This is that watch I'd rather wear.
    Last edited by ljb187; February 20th, 2013 at 00:09.
    Janne likes this.

  11. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Middle of Hurricane Alley
    Posts
    21,244

    Re: Regular Patents, Look-And-Feel Patents, And Copyright

    Quote Originally Posted by ljb187 View Post
    Just about the first thing you learn in school is that you shouldn't copy other people's work. That applies to six year olds and international companies alike. What I don't get is that Timex has a history that's much longer than Rolex's; they don't need to look them (or any other outside designs) for homages. If you go to Timex's site and click just four times you arrive at this great looking dive-style watch from their own Originals collection:

    Attachment 978787

    This is that watch I'd rather wear.
    Weird. I had a Timex that I think looked like this. Late 1960's or very early 1970's.

    Most manufacturers, from humble ones like Timex all the way to Patek, have some great own designs they can work on.

    Re "homaging". Is it not weird that companies like Rolex, Omega, JLC, Patek, ALS, etc etc, do not need to copy or homage others design?
    How come only some companies have to do that?

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •