Christiane:

So the main idea initially was to create a toy that allows little, very young kids to get around and also to make it not gendered. We both, Barry and I, we love animals and we just liked the idea of it being a friend as well and not just a toy you use and chuck in the corner. We had a concept, we then took things to childcare centres to see what they think about it, and eventually we had it tested. I think to have early and well-protected strategy for your own designs is very important because that's what you have. This is your product. The advice we got from most people was, 'Don't bother about it. It's too hard to do. They won't care if you have it. They'd just copy you anyway, so why bother?' Some five years later when we started exporting, that's when problems started. Suddenly at the toy fair, there was a company having exactly the same product in a not as good quality as ours, but it was an exact copy.

Then we contacted an Australian IP lawyer who actually put us onto someone in China, and we thought there's nothing we can do because we do not have design registration in China, but you can have a copyright registration in China. It's actually more better regarded than design registration. So eventually we got copyright registration and with it, we went to court and won against these people who had started to copy us. When a catalog came up and they had a product which was exactly the same as our bee, years before we would have just felt, 'Oh my God, this is the end. What can we do?' So eventually my husband just wrote a letter and said, 'We are aware this is happening. Are you aware that we have this and this and this protection in Australia?' And within an hour, they got back to him and told him the container hasn't shipped yet and they will not get it. So none of these products ever hits the Australian market. And that's how effective the design registration or 3D trade mark can be. Protecting your designs is very important. If you have a product like the Wheely Bug, if you have a particular design and new idea that you came up with, I would strongly suggest you do, at least in your own country, like Australia, get as strong as possible protection for that. And before you look overseas, just weigh up your options.

Last updated: 
Monday, May 10, 2021