Finns’ creativeness seemingly knows no bounds
Protection of registered designs has been sought on thousands of Finnish products and inventions
By Tapio Mainio
”I have to admit that we have sometimes spent some rib-tickling moments here. It seems that the Finns’ creativity really does not know any bounds”, says Senior Legal Officer Olli Teerikangas from the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (NBPR).
He has handled matters relating to the protection of registered designs for many years.
”The requirements of the proposed trademark have been satisfied, as the product differs from an ordinary helmet”, says Teerikangas, when we are eyeing a helmet equipped with a useful banana and a pair of dishbrushes (Application No. 20100130).
”It is a novelty, distinctive, and a result of creative mental work. There is no legal paragraph that would prevent our handling of a funny application”, Teerikangas notes.
The design right application becomes pending only after the application fee of EUR 185 has been paid. The design right protects the appearance of a product or a part of a product.
”Without the registration of a design there is no effective way to intervene in the activities of copiers”, Teerikangas continues.
On the website of the NBPR, there is a cornucopia of thousands of objects and products which have been granted a design right.
”Many objects are very ordinary, such as sauna stoves, tyres and spare parts for cars, bookshelves, and bottles. Previously, we used to handle for example Nokia’s mobile phone designs, but today many companies use the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) that is located in Alicante in Spain. The OHIM is an European Union agency responsible for registering trade marks and designs that are valid in all 27 countries of the EU”, Teerikangas reports.
The protection granted by the NBPR is valid for five years from the filing date and can be renewed for four further periods of five years. In other words, the protection is effective for up to 25 years.
The Board does not handle any disputes relating to design rights. If someone infringes a design, the right holder should take the dispute to a court of law for adjudication.
Filing a design registration application is easy, as the the most crucial material needed in the process consists of photographs or drawings of the product in question.
The annual number of design protection applications received by the NBPR is about 200.
Teerikangas points out that a copyright on a design protects only the appearance of a product or part of a product. Technical ideas that can be put into industrial use can, instead, obtain patent or utility model protection.
”It is quite easy to circumvent the design right protection. For example the potato nose of my hedgehog can be removed, in which case it becomes just a hedgehog pincushion that is easy to copy”, says entrepreneur Tuula Ruokonen, who sells handicrafts.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 24.11.2011
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish design sold well at Shanghai Expo (18.11.2010)
Study: Finland loses 150,000 creative people each year (12.4.2005)
National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland
Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM)
www.eurofire.fi (the foam extinguisher cart, in Finnish)
www.mariikki.fi (the felted hedgehog, in Finnish)
www.rokkiritari.fi (that helmet, in Finnish).
TAPIO MAINIO / Helsingin Sanomat