Can good design be owned?

Earlier this month, Apple’s attempt to stop Samsung from selling its Galaxy tablets was thrown out of the UK high court on the grounds that the judge ruled the Samsung version is not ‘as cool’ as the iPad.

Last month, there was furore surrounding the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project when Orange and Intel ran a TV advert featuring a car that looked strikingly similar to the supersonic Thrust car which the team had designed, built and driven to take the world land speed record in 1997.

Whatever one’s views on the justice (or morality) of the companies trying to get in on the action, the reality is that iconic designs (as well as designer labels) are quickly copied – and often with alarming speed.

Which you could say is the ultimate compliment to an organisation’s innovation, but that’s probably cold comfort for shareholders with an eye on the bottom line – or worse still, a real threat to the survival of projects such as Bloodhound, that rely purely on sponsorship and donations to fund their efforts to create something genuinely world beating – and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers along the way.

When legal challenges fail, there are though still a few courses of action remaining:

  1. Milk the PR exposure that comes out of the protest for all it’s worth
  2. Embrace the challenge to continually evolve and innovate
  3. Capitalise on the ‘coolness’ of the genuine article and find the people out there who are prepared to pay for it
  4. Get the public behind the anticipation of what will come after the iBook, the iPod, the iPhone and iPad …. and the British supersonic car that is set to break the 1000mph world land speed record.

If you’re interested in reading more about these brand disputes, see:

Rory Cellan Jones, 'Orange, Intel, and a fast car furore'

Charles Arthur, 'Samsung's tablet "not as cool as iPad"'

Categories: Opinion