The most common business mistakes related to intellectual property

All businesses make mistakes, but the most successful ones learn from the mistakes of others. Svetlana Koroliova, patent attorney at LEXPATENT, talks about the most common business mistakes related to intellectual property. 

If you have made your product packaging look like that of a competitor, get ready for a trouble.

When launching a new product, a company creates a brand and develops its visual identity. Some manufacturers build on a competitor’s popular product, and create similar packaging design and logo, with a view to retarget customers for their product and enter the market without significant promotion costs. In doing so, such manufacturers may conduct the necessary searches and find that the competitor, as it sometimes happens, has not taken care of the legal protection of either the brand or the packaging design. 

What can go wrong?

A competitor who was the first to tap the market may find this situation unacceptable: even in the absence of intellectual property rights, it may refer to the legal provisions on protection against unfair competition. The Law of the Republic of Belarus “On Combating Monopolistic Activities and Development of Competition” contains a non-exhaustive list of forms of unfair competition, including “copying or imitation of appearance of goods introduced into civil turnover in the Republic of Belarus by another business entity, packaging of such goods, its label, name, color scheme... or other elements that individualize a competitor and (or) its goods”. If the fact of unfair competition is acknowledged by the antimonopoly body or court, the manufacturer will have not only to stop using the disputed design, but also to pay a fine (not less than 400 basic units). 

Patent attorney’s advice:

to avoid financial and reputational losses, you should not try to free ride on someone else’s product design, while manufacturers whose packaging is imitated are advised to actively defend their rights, as failure to act incentivizes unscrupulous competitors.