Intellectual Property

Knowing Your Intellectual Property Rights

Posted on September 29, 2013 ยท Posted in Inspiration

Intellectual property rights around digital design by its very nature is a subjective and occasionally divisive issue.

One designer’s idea of great design can be completely different to another person’s. So who is right? There is no definitive answer, but the fact that one design is more popular than another make it a better design? If a design is copied, or inspires similar output, does that make it a good design?

The answer in my opinion would have to be yes. Remember when Apple first released it’s all white, shiny button website back in 2001? there were hundreds of copycat websites, inspiring (or is that influencing?) designers to adopt more of Apple’s design ethos.

In one way Apple should be flattered that they inspired a generation of designers. on the flip side they don’t want anyone abusing their intellectual property. Where this becomes an issue is where the lines are blurred. the law goes some way to protecting designers, but what and who exactly does the law protect?

Taking a look at who, and without taking sides, it is rare to see an individual seeking compensation from larger businesses and corporations for design infringement. The opposite scenario is more likely. Why? Businesses typically have more to protect, as they have an recognised brand. they will have an army of designers spending hours/weeks/months creating a design – well, this is what they will tell you. typically, individuals don’t have the financial clout to pursue claims.

An area that needs serious consideration is how a design is used. Does an individual recreating a design, not for profit, or telling others how to recreate a design infring copyright? Apparently so, an example being a small projected called Popular UIs run by Luke Chesser.

The website demonstrates how to recreate popular User Interfaces (UIs). It doesn’t endorse that designers copy designs, but simple gives guidelines and help to those wanting to learn. MailChimp decided they didn’t like this so they asked Luke to remove any MailChimp related content.

The design community is happy to share, but it seems that the bigger the business, the less likely this is to happen. However, it does raise the question of where does design inspiration come from in the first place? Nothing is original, so where did MailChimp get their inspiration from.