In part two of our series on the history of design rights, we look at the decision to register a design right. Registered design rights are relatively underused in the UK compared to other nations. Why is it that UK designers are less likely to register their designs?
In the third chapter of this report is an exciting (to economists, at least!) piece on behavioural economics and cognitive psychology written by Evgeniya Petrova and Rebecca Milner. The chapter analyses the decision making process of protecting and enforcing design rights. Petrova and Milner identify five limitations in our thinking that may lead to illogical conclusions, and how they relate to design rights.
Here is a summary of their considerations of the process of deciding to register a design:
- loss aversion: Decision-makers who are considering registering their design rights may be influenced by concerns over the lost time and money involved in the process
- anchoring: People who are considering registering their design rights may use the first price they are presented with as an anchor for the price of the full process
- salience: People may not consider registering their design rights as the need isn’t obvious
- fluency: People who are considering registering their design rights may be influenced by the perceived difficulty of the process
- availability: People may not consider registering their design rights as they cannot easily recall instances of this being necessary
These suggest that the decision to register a design, or not, may be influenced by a variety of behavioural factors. What might this tell us about the use of design rights in the UK? Even more than that, consider what these limitations tell us about our own behaviour. Did I succumb to anchoring when I thought my handbag was a bargain compared to more expensive options?
This isn’t a trivial question, other IPO research shows that design makes a huge contribution to UK innovation, in spite of the relatively sparing use of design rights.
If you have questions or feedback, do comment on this blogpost and we’ll do our best to respond.