Design Protection- part 1

Recently someone asked me if I had patented certain craft products that were  developed. Not only the admirer of the products, but also the commissioning agency themselves had doubts about the ownership of the designs. “They belong to the craftsmen”, I offered. There were doubts, skeptics. “But they will fight amongst themselves, that this is my design and that is his design….” .

Jimmy Wales looked quite dapper in his white coat and the sunshine brought out the spark in his eyes. This was at a conference some years back. The topic of discussion was open knowledge. Wikipedia had plans to come up with an encyclopedia of the sorts that would incorporate all the information available on the wiki into a compilation of books.

That time I was in middle of a  project regarding protection of traditional crafts knowledge in the country. So, Jimmy Wales’s presentation of his ideas created a debate in my mind…. Open knowledge, yes….but how much…?

We live in a world where we take knowledge for granted. One man’s rubbish could be another man’s treasure. We also live in a country where each village consists of artists par excellence, hidden in their huts and fighting for a living earned through their traditional expertise on material, often referred to as crafts. Ironically, there are also those housewives who use the branding “designer” without so much as understanding the process, marketing themselves relentlessly and earn more than the poor embroiderer who is employed to thread a pattern.

It is thrown again and again at me. Patents. Trademark. Registeration. Copyright.

But the image of Jimmy Wales in his white suit and his super smile also keeps reminding me ….to share knowledge……with those who need it.

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