On April 15th I posted an entry on how to protect your product design using trademark law. Last month, it was reported that Hershey had filed a trademark infringement claim against Williams-Sonoma alleging that the latter company had violated its trademark rights by copying the design of its chocolate bar by creating a brownie pan comprising twelve rectangles. Hershey also asserted that Williams-Sonoma had “embodied and mimicked” its registered trademark by packaging its pan in a manner intended to make it look like a Hershey bar. The federally registered Hershey trademark is the subject of U.S. Trademark Registration #3,668,662 and is depicted below. Hershey followed up this registration by filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, #77809223, which is still pending, for the same design with the word Hershey’s omitted from it.
So you can protect your product design by means of a trademark registration.
And you can use that registration as a weapon to go after copycats.
And if you develop a distinctive product design, it may be worth conducting a clearance search of the Patent Office’s trademark records before you market it in order to make sure no one created that design first.