Legal basics for designers

Open Design is about sharing your work with others, and about designing with others. This also brings up some confusion; how can you share your work without getting copied? What are your rights if you design something in a collaborate project? And can a commercial product be Open Design? Is it possible to make a living from your work if you open your design files?

To answer these questions, it’s good to get some background on copyright and industrial design right, how design traditionally is protected and how Creative Commons licenses can be applied to design. For designers, the legal aspects of protecting their work are hard to figure out. Instead of diving into all of the legal licensing systems, it is best to first define a clear goal, and then find the best way to license your work.

For the Open Design Contest, that will be held in Vienna this year, intern Sam Edens (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), together with the Intitute for Information Law (IViR) and Creative Commons NL has prepared an article in which copyright, industrial design right, patent law and trademark law is briefly explained. By looking at specific cases is illustrated which rights apply for designers, and how in these cases Creative Commons can be applied to achieve the goal of the designer.

  • Case 1: Exposure by sharing
  • Case 2: Innovation by collaboration
  • Case 3: Sharing to improve products

We also prepared an eight page document that can be downloaded as pdf file.