This new dress from Anouk Wipprecht and Chromatic 3D Materials highlights that we now have capabilities to move beyond just 3D printed garments, and to integrate embedded electronics into 3D printed elastomer garments in a functional (wearable and washable!) manner. With practical functionality, surely commercialisation will follow.
This creation and the potential for commercialisation, along with the recent Project Primrose interactive dress from Adobe, brings to mind questions of whether IP legislation is fit for purpose when it comes to wearable tech. In particular, where integrated tech is used to enhance the aesthetics of a garment.
Functionally, wearable tech may be protected by a patent. And the appearance of a garment can generally be protected by a registered design.
Registered designs are available for both physical products (including transformable, e.g. mechanically transformable, products) and virtual products (including static and dynamic graphical user interfaces and non-fungible tokens). However, in the UK, the practice for protecting physical and virtual products is quite different. For example, a physical product can be shown via multiple views, whereas virtual products that are static or require user interaction to obtain a different view can only be protected via a single snapshot. Anecdotally, the requirements for using multiple views to represent a dynamic GUI also seem to have become more restrictive in the UK post-Brexit.
This raises the question - for a garment such as the Anouk Wipprecht/Chromatic 3D Materials dress which has interactive LEDs that change in response to the environment, would the UK IPO treat this as a transformable physical product or as a dynamic virtual product? It seems that neither silo would be wholly applicable and some practice development may be needed in order to keep up with developments and commcialisation of integrated tech.
Our team of Designs experts at Marks & Clerk enjoy keeping abreast of technology and IP developments. For advice, on simple or tricky matters, please get in touch!