Industrial Design and Artistic Expression: The Challenge of Legal Protection
The complex nature of industrial design, which combines functional and aesthetic elements, allows for different modes of protection, with cumulative, separate or partially overlapping regimes applicable according to different legal systems. The legal framework is rapidly changing, especially in Europe where the principle of cumulation of a special sui generis regime for protecting industrial design with copyright rules has been established. Over the last decade, the national courts of some Member States construed the “cumulative regime” with a peculiar meaning, while other courts enforced design rights in line with the interpretation given by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The copyright/design interface is presented here to a wider, non-specialist audience, taking as a starting point the notion of industrial design derived from design studies, on the borderline between art and science. Other challenges which will need to be confronted urgently over the coming years are also raised.