Paris Hilton continues her IP education… from the defendant’s chair

by Jason Fischer

paris_hilton_hallmark_2After getting the go-ahead from the Ninth Circuit earlier this year on her “That’s Hot!” trademark infringement case against Hallmark, hotel heiress Paris Hilton has apparently signed up (although unwillingly) for another intellectual property lesson.  This time, she’s going to be studying design patents.  Her professor, a footwear designer called Gwyneth Shoes, claims that its design patent has been infringed by Ms. Hilton’s kicks.  (Source.)

paris-hilton-shoe

If you look closely, you can see the heart.

Design patent protection is similar to copyright protection, in that the alleged infringer is in trouble if they’ve produced something that is substantially similar to the protected design.  However, while the government simply gives out copyright registrations, upon request, design patents are only awarded after an examination is done and it has been determined that the proposed design is novel (i.e., no one else has previously designed a product like this).

shoe_sock

Gwyneth’s design

The prize for successfully prosecuting a design patent application?  Complete national monopoly for 14 years.  Since copyright protection lasts for a minimum of 70 years, some people would argue that a design patent is hardly worth the effort and cost.  The problem with that logic is that copyrights come with a whole boatload of limitations, leaving room for potential defendants to get away free.  As a key example, fair use and independent creation are no defense to a charge of design patent infringement.  Just ask Paris Hilton, who undoubtedly has just learned about this little wrinkle from her attorney.


This article was originally posted on The Tactical IP Blog

5 Responses to Paris Hilton continues her IP education… from the defendant’s chair

  1. Mike says:

    “Since copyright protection lasts for a minimum of 70 years, some people would argue that a design patent is hardly worth the effort and cost. ”

    That always seemed like a problem with copyright protection not patents. 14 yrs seems about right to me. I’d guess there would be far fewer digital piracy problems if copyright only lasted 14 or even 25 years.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      According to one school of thought, the length of term for copyright is indented to ensure that the author will be able to extract enough monetary reward from her monopoly to justify engaging in the endeavor of creation.  Whether you agree that people will not create without an economic incentive, it would seem that recent advances in technology have i) lowered the barrier to creative expression; and ii) reduced the time necessary to achieve some meaningful economic return.  You would think that, based on that, the term for copyright protection should be shortened.  Unfortunately, each time the term for the movie “Snow White” gets close to an end, Disney is going to throw its considerable weight into lobbying for another extension.

  2. [...] Legal Stuff Do you know the differences between copyright protection and design pattern protection? Go here to find out. [...]

  3. great post about paris hilton, I think she is actually quite smart, press wise. We have been compiling a list of official leaked videos of her. She sure knows out to create free press.

  4. I would love a face like she’s angels, especially in the photo she wears sportswear, then in her very beautiful. however I do not like her way of life, knowing that she is very rich but that does not mean she was allowed to live so all the media are not good news for her. I really feel sorry.

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