Q: Custom watchmaker question: can a unique dial design, and ensuing way to read time be trademarked and owned?
I am a custom watchmaker who creates dials and watches. I have designed an absolutely unique way to track and read the time of day on a watch dial. This design could be used in clocks also. Here is my question: Can this unique dial configuration be trademarked or maybe copyrighted so that others cannot copy my design and sell it. I have named the design. I am assuming I can trademark the name. I can own the trademarked name which represents my design. However, is there any way I can control that others cannot make their dials on clocks and watches using the same numbers and symbols aligned in the same way so they can compete directly with my sales?
A: To fully answer your question I would need to know more about the function of the dial configuration. The design may be protected by copyright law if it is not functional. However, the scope of copyright protection may be narrow, leaving room for others to design around your dial. From your description, it seems like a design patent may be best suited to protect your creation. I recommend speaking with a patent attorney who has experience with design patents.
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