Svenskt Tenn established itself on the international stage right from the start. In 1925, the company won a Grand Prix in Paris and founder Estrid Ericsson gradually entered into a long-term collaboration with internationally renowned Austria architect Josef Frank. “The strong link between the designer and the craftsman’s profession is the unique aspect of the production,” says Maria Veerasamy, CEO at Svenskt Tenn. Right from the beginning, furniture and products were created in order to last for generations to come - and this is where the company’s artistic core values lie even today.
Risk-taking with advantages and disadvantages
The collaboration between Ericsson and Frank grew in a true pioneering spirit. With its innovative idioms and investments to promote growth, the company took major risks. This risk-taking in the design process has given the company its characteristic identity over the years and contributed to the international success of the products. Products which were designed during the 1920s are still being sold, which demonstrates the strength and established nature of the trademark.
Svenskt Tenn manages its inheritance well. No changes in materials, production methods or outlines are permitted amongst the older collections, and Josef Frank’s instructions and drawings must be followed precisely. The local production required to achieve the special quality that arises at the interface between designers and craftsmen makes any attempt to copy the products a risky venture. This, combined with the strong establishment, has meant that the enterprise has faced numerous issues relating to intellectual property rights.
“Ignorance over trademark protection”
“Intellectual property rights have come about in order to encourage development by giving creators and innovators a special right to use their work,” explains the Swedish Patent and Registration Office at prv.se. According to Maria Veerasamy, ignorance of trademark protection is a widespread phenomenon, and Svenskt Tenn’s intangible assets are infringed too often. “Some people buy fabrics from us and produce their own collections and then call the products ‘Svenskt Tenn’. We speak to these people and they realise their mistake, but then there are those who consciously abuse and manufacture products through mass production. In such cases, the infringement occurs on the basis of an entirely different platform. However, we are aware of the risks - being a groundbreaking pioneer is a risky venture which must be acknowledged through intellectual property rights.
Svenskt Tenn’s biggest assets as regards intellectual property rights lie in the enterprise’s pioneering spirit, design process and credibility amongst designs, craftsmen and customers. “It is our history and our design values which form the basis for the entire business. Today’s designers often work with us as many of the products have a long life - it is not about a series of short-lived collections superseding each other,” she says.
Intellectual property rights a cornerstone
The company’s collaboration with designers usually involves the payment of royalties or a direct assignment from Svenskt Tenn as an outsourced design service. In addition, many contracts and “gentleman's agreements” have been established during the development of the business. Maria says that, although the designers themselves often rely on their copyright and sometimes registered design protection, intellectual property rights form a cornerstone for the success of the partnerships. “We have a methodical approach to our intellectual property rights strategy and, together with our agent, we also respond to infringements and take legal action where necessary..
Intellectual property rights have been registered in order to promote development by giving creators and innovators a special right to use their work. Intangible assets are assets which are not physical. Such assets often represent the most valuable assets in an enterprise. There are several types of intangible assets which are well worth protecting: Patents, trademarks, designs, licence agreements, trade secrets, business models, copyright, collaboration agreements, etc.
Five steps to boost your profitability
- Identify your enterprise’s intangible assets.
- Prioritise the assets with respect to each other. Review each asset and decide how important it is relative to the other assets.
- Develop a method for handling and documenting your assets and a 3. strategy for managing them in the long term.
- Tell the outside world what your intangible assets are.
- Make use of your assets and achieve success!
The interview was made in 2014.
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PRV School online
Learn more about trademarks and other intellectual property rights at the PRV School online.