Back in 2011, ‘super’ angel investor Ron Conway, called design and user experience the new intellectual property. UX is one of the biggest legally recognized business assets in the corporate world today. Having said that, there’s little focus on incorporating legal information at the design stage thereby leading to the creation of cutting edge intellectual property that cannot be protected or monetized.
As UX professionals acknowledge the need to incorporate a more customer-centric approach in design strategies, it becomes important to continuously ask, ‘does the customer or user find my product attractive and useful?’ Recent trends suggest that the more popular devices emphasize great design aesthetics with functionality. To many the future of design is the marriage between form and utility, however Intellectual Property law does not share this perspective. Instead of protecting it under one single IPR, the law seeks to protect the design as separate elements under copyright, patents, trademarks or trade dress. Should designers then be privy to legal know-how at all stages of the design process? How do UX and CX strategies change owing to the form-functionality debate? And finally, does design need a change of outlook or does the law need to catch up?