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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 22400
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Can you copyright sandpaper design

Customer Question

Can you copyright sandpaper design
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 months ago.

Good morning. Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to assist you with this today.

Can you explain the situation here in the little more detail please? Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
We are importing detail sanding sheets, they are designed to have holes in for dust extraction and a shape to fit electric sanders, we know others sell as generic product to say fit a Bosch sander but wondered if Bosch could have a copyright on the design as we did not think it was a patent problem. We are importing a range that would cover many well known makes of sanding machines.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 months ago.

There are a variety of intellectual property rights.

Registered and unregistered design right.

Copyright

Patent

It’s unlikely that Patent applies here because there are no unique features.

They could have copyright in the shape and are registered or unregistered design right.

The test would be whether anyone looking at your sheet would look at it and think that it was a Bosch sheet.

The best situation here is to compare this to car spares. As soon as the car comes out, the pattern part manufacturers start making spares. Hence, if your car needs an exhaust, you would rarely buy a manufacturers part would buy a pattern part which is fit although maybe a slightly different design but is also much cheaper. I am not aware that any of these pattern part manufacturers have ever been taken to court provided of course they are not trying to pass the part off as original.

Similarly, you can buy jigsaw blades from a whole host of manufacturers which fit different jigsaws the fitting of which is unique to a particular manufacturer.

The difficulty of course is that if Bosch decided to bring an action against you for passing off and using exactly their shape, even though they may ultimately lose in court, (there is no guarantee they would lose, it is likely to be expensive and risky litigation.

Sometimes, there is no definitive answer to a question and all we can give you is an opinion of the likelihood of litigation.

Does that answer the question?

Can I answer any specific points arising from this?

Please use the rating service to rate my answer positively. If you don’t rate it positively, and I don’t get paid credit from my time today.

You may think the thread closes after rating, but it does not. It remains open and we can still exchange correspondence if anything needs clarification.

Kind regards.

Stuart.

PS make sure that you are trading as a limited company and then, if they do start being difficult, and they take you to court, you can liquidate the company and their action will fall apart.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi,We would be selling a sheet that is designed for a Bosch sander, but it would not have Bosch displayed on the product other than being compatible with a Bosh sander, so we are unsure when you mention:The test would be whether anyone looking at your sheet would look at it and think that it was a Bosch sheet.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 months ago.

Probably the most notable case that I remember with regard to the design right in the shape I think was settled out of court.

The one I remember was Caterham Cars v Westfield and from memory it revolved around the triangular shape of the Caterham windscreen support which Westfield had copied. If you looked at the Westfield original windscreen support it looks like the Caterham one even though the dimensions were different.

In your case, if it looks like the Bosch one because only Bosch have that shape, then you may be potentially on the receiving end of a passing off action.

If however there are dozens of companies who do details sanders, all with triangular sheets, albeit that they don’t fit each other because they are slightly different sizes, then there is no claim.

It would come down to whether the triangular shape with the holes in was unique or not

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