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Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

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Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Posted by James Shaw on Jun 10, 2019 5:05 pm

One of the most inspiring talks given at my local centre was Rob Law's Making 'Trunki' From A Worldwide Supply Chain during which he described his long journey to take a design concept and realise it as a saleable product.

'Trunki' is a ride-on suitcase for a child that looks like an animal, a novel idea. As a design student Rob Law first tried to interest suitcase makers, 'sorry it is a toy', and toy retailers, 'sorry it is a suitcase' and so eventually he had to become a business man and make it himself.

I am aware that in recent years others have tried to produce similar items, today this was brought home to me when I saw what looked like a 'Trunki' in a shop window but close inspection revealed that it was being sold under the brand name of a well-know manufacturer of suitcases. I mentioned this to a young shop assistant, she knew about 'Trunki' from its appearance on TV and she actually thought it was a 'real' 'Trunki' in the window, so definitely 'sincere imitation' there.

It has long puzzled me that anyone who has a novel idea has an uphill struggle securing patent/design rights at the same time trying to find someone to make or sell it for you - a disclosed, unregistered idea is no longer novel and cannot be protected. Contrast this with the world of copyright, the mere act of creation can secure protection extending over many decades. People have made a good living from a single bar of music created in moments yet to do the same with an 'engineering' idea demands money, determination and constant vigilance and probably a better idea in reserve.

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