IHA caught up with Christopher Carani, noted intellectual property attorney, to learn about latest developments in patent and appearance IP protection – a topic of critical importance in our industry, which he will discuss at the 2018 International Home + Housewares Show. At the Show, the Innovation Theater will feature 21 presentations over four days. Topics discussed will include smart home, consumer shopping preferences, branding and global market trends.
Christopher V. Carani is a partner at the Chicago-based IP law firm of McAndrews, Held & Malloy, Ltd. He is widely recognized as a leading authority in the field of design law, having litigated, prosecuted, published and lectured in the field for nearly 20 years. Chris is the current chair of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property on Designs, and past chair of both American Intellectual Property Law Association and the American Bar Association Design Rights Committees. Chris was conferred his J.D. by The Law School at The University of Chicago and holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Marquette University. Prior to joining McAndrews, Chris served as a law clerk to the Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Chris is on faculty at both Northwestern University School of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law as an Adjunct Professor teaching IP law. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the book entitled “Design Rights: Functionality and Scope of Protection,” published in October of 2017 by Wolters Kluwer N.V. He serves on the Advisory Design Council for The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and is an Ambassador Member of the Industrial Designer’s Society of America.
Chris, what is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work?
I find it most exciting to learn about a client’s new product ideas and seeing them mature to commercialized offerings. As for the most rewarding, it is client relationships with such deep levels of mutual trust that both parties always know that the other has his/her back. This type of “partnering” leads to the best results.
Can you name a pivotal event or project that impacted your career or company?
In the first five years of my career I had the opportunity to delve deep into the three bodies of law – patents, trademarks and copyrights—that protect the appearance of consumer products. More recently, the Apple v. Samsung case certainly thrust design rights into the limelight.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
The biggest uptick is clients looking to protect the appearance of their products through design patents.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
I want to discuss ways in which to protect appearances of both products and packaging. I want people to be aware of what is possible. There are two reasons: (1) understanding how to protect your own products/packaging, and (2) understanding that others may have sought this type of protection and thus to make sure that you do not infringe upon someone else’s IP. Stated differently, IP is two-way street: (1) procurement and (2) clearance.
More specifically, I will give many VISUAL examples of products/packaging that have been protected and enforced. I find that anecdotes from the real-world are one of the best ways to communicate this increasingly complex area of the law.
Looks Matter: Protecting and Enforcing IP in Product and Packaging Design
Monday, March 12 1:30 -2:20 pm
Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center E350
You’ve presented in the Innovation Theater before. What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
I look forward to fielding questions from the audience. The energy at the Show is inspiring. Every time I leave the Show I head back to my office energized and looking forward. It also is nice that the Show is in Chicago, my hometown!
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products or how to shop for them?
A big concern continues to be counterfeits and knock-offs. Consumers want the product they want. All too often, what they purchase (particularly in an on-line marketplace) is not an authentic product.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
Design of appearances on display screens, be it smartphones, tablets, or screens on appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, etc. More and more products are incorporating these Graphical User Interfaces (“GUI”) along with creative looking icons and animations. From an IP perspective, we have had to devise strategies to protect these design elements.
Thank you, Chris, for giving us a preview of this complex topic that is so important in the housewares marketplace. You have such an engaging manner and presentation style, you enliven what could be a daunting subject. We look forward to learning from you.
To learn more about Chris Carani and McAndrews, see www.mcandrews-ip.com.
McAndrews is a full-service IP firm, handling all aspects of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and unfair competition. The client base ranges from large multinationals to individual inventors.
Learn from experts about how to invigorate your new products and services by enhancing your innovation efforts. Critical issues such as global design trends, branding, the needs of distinct consumer age and gender groups, and questions about smart/connected devices in our home environments all impact the home goods market. Be sure to attend the free executive-level educational sessions at the Innovation Theater. These programs will give you a fresh perspective as you walk the Show and will inspire, inform and improve your business. All programs will be audio-recorded and will be available at www.housewares.org after the Show.