Copyrights and royalties
Singapore 25th August 2011
The issue of copyrights and subsequent claim on royalties is an age old point of discussion, certainly in this part of the (Asia Pacific) world. It is only recently that China has started to crack down on blatant infringements such as Apple I-stores and IKEA outlets clearly using the branding without being officially licenced to represent the company or act as its official selling agent. A trip to the lighting city near Guangzhou, the lighting manufacturing heart of China, also reveals unbelievable copies form branded lighting products. It is so in your face that you just wonder whether those blatantly copying have any shame or honour.
What caught my attention today and led to the subject of this blog is the court tussle between the City of Sydney and an Australian business owner in regards to so-called multi-functional poles also called smart poles, which are designed to integrate a variety of functions such as street lights, traffic lights, banners, signs and street names, CCTV camera’s and in some cases even street furniture such as a bench, a phone booth, or a bin and so on. The original design was developed by the City of Sydney for the Olympic Games in 2000 and about 2000 pcs line the streets of Sydney.
The (Australian) manufacturer of the poles however went on to sell the smart pole concept in other countries, one of them being Singapore, where about 200 pieces are now installed along Orchard Road. Key to the million dollar legal battle is that the City of Sydney claims that it has the exclusive right to the design and that any follow on sales like in Singapore should be subject to royalty payments. The manufacturer of course claims that the “Sing pole” is different in design and specification then the Sydney “Smart pole. I don’t know the finer details and I am sure they will somehow work it out, but the point is that it is really difficult in our line of business to protect and defend intellectual property rights. By just changing some components or shape of the product you can claim it is not the same while every-one with a right mind can clearly see it is exactly the same concept but (sometimes even not visibly) changed to avoid royalty issues.
In Light Watch today I leave you to judge for yourself with some pictures of the poles. The first two are from Sydney (smart pole) the next two from Singapore (Sing-pole).
Light Watch 150: Smart poles Sydney and Singapore