Iconic designs protected as three-dimensional marks: the intersection of design history and intellectual property protection history

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2018
Oğuz, Ezgi
Three-dimensional marks are mainly described as the borderline between trademark and design. The three-pointed star emblem of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the triangular prism shape of Toblerone chocolate bar, the rounded body shape of Clipper lighter, and the ‘hobble-skirt’ contour design of Coca-Cola bottle are among the well-known examples of three-dimensional marks with iconic designs coupled with economic success stories. The aim of this study is to examine three-dimensional marks in relation to other types of intellectual property protection through a historical perspective, and to identify and diversify IP protection strategies for three dimensional shapes. Based on an extensive literature review and a detailed search of intellectual property databases, the study classifies three dimensional shapes which are protected as three-dimensional trademarks or service marks into three main categories. In the first category, there are iconic product designs which are protected as three-dimensional marks as exemplified by Coca-Cola contour bottle and Crocs shoes. In the second category, there are iconic buildings which are protected as three-dimensional marks as exemplified by Transamerica Pyramid Building in San Francisco and Chrysler Building in New York. In the third category, there are iconic technological designs which are protected as three-dimensional marks as exemplified by iPod MP3 player and iPhone smartphone. The study is at the intersection of design history and intellectual property protection history, and presents an integrated approach to identify and diversify IP protection strategies for three dimensional shapes through a series of case studies in the categories identified.
Citation Formats
E. Oğuz, “Iconic designs protected as three-dimensional marks: the intersection of design history and intellectual property protection history,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2018.