From copyrights to patents, this guide looks into the importance of IP laws in the luxury goods market.
By: LF Correspondent
Posted on: February 1, 2024
Goods are classified as luxury due to their rarity and the high prices they fetch. As such, the producers of these goods must have some control over the market to ensure their goods maintain the rarity factor, which qualifies them for the luxury market category.
For the most part, the luxury goods market relies on IP laws to ensure exclusivity and continued dominance of the specific goods they sell. This guide looks into the importance of IP laws in the luxury goods market and may be an excellent read if you want to venture into the market.
Types of IPs
Copyright laws protect aspects such as sketches, plans, graphics, advertising material, etc. Copyright applies by default to the creator unless they transfer the rights to another entity.
If the creator is an employee, the copyright to their work belongs to their employer. Copyright protections last through the holder's life and 50 to 70 years after death, depending on jurisdiction.
Trademark rights cover brand identifiers such as names, logos, slogans, etc. While trademark rights can apply on a first-to-use basis, registration with the relevant authority gives you more protections and makes fighting infringement relatively easy.
Trademark rights last ten years from the registration date, but the rights are renewable upon paying a registration fee. This is how some luxury brands have maintained exclusive rights to their names and logos for hundreds of years.
Patents cover innovations in terms of design and technology. As such, there are two main types of patent protection: utility and industrial design. Utility patents protect the functional aspects of an innovation, such as its technology. In contrast, design patents, also known as industrial design rights in some jurisdictions, cover the non-functional aspects of a product, such as shape, texture, color combinations, etc.
Utility patents last for 20 years, while design patents last for 15 years from the date of registration. After the expiration of the protection period, any other entity can replicate the technology or design without any legal consequences.
The Importance of IP Laws in Luxury Goods Market
As mentioned earlier, exclusivity is critical in controlling supply and demand, a product's rarity and price. Registering IPs gives the rights holder exclusive rights to profit from their work and the power to take legal action against individuals or entities that infringe on those rights.
For example, only watches made by Rolex can use the name Rolex in their marketing, thereby controlling the number of products in the market and, ultimately, the status as a luxury brand.
Exclusivity also guarantees uniqueness in the market. For example, one of the benefits of industrial design protection is allowing a brand to enjoy a unique design in the market, which can help with standing out of the crowd.
Exclusivity allows a product manufacturer and seller to control a product's reputation in the market. Using the Rolex example mentioned earlier, having control of the market means Rolex can control the quality of the products in the market and its reputation.
There is always the possibility of having counterfeits diluting a brand's reputation. Still, with trademark laws prescribing consequences for infringement and an avenue for suing, a producer has significant control over the quality of the goods in the market.
Incentivizing Innovation and Creativity
It takes a lot to create products that resonate with your target audience. Therefore, creators and luxury brands want to be sure that the efforts and resources they put into the creation process are worth it. With exclusive rights to a creation, only the creator can profit from their creations, allowing them time to recoup their investment.
Even for protections with limited timelines, such as patents and industrial design, an innovator has a head start in profiting from their work, which is a huge incentive and a driver for growth in the luxury goods industry.