Who Owns The Future Of Design?

(This article was co-written by Marcus Moore and Janki Gause.)

On February 24, 2017, Source3 was invited to join A/D/O Designer-in-Residence and industrial designer, Stephen Burks with Ginvile Ramanauskite from 3D design platform CGTtrader in a panel discussion. The discussion took place at A/D/O, a BMW MINI sponsored creative space located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn dedicated to provoke and invigorate new design practices.  

We are proud to kick off a licensing partnership between Stephen Burks and CGTrader, who share a common passion for design, technology, and innovation. We see an interesting analogy between how a platform like Napster revolutionized the digital distribution of music and how platforms like CGTrader are now doing the same for digital products, i.e., 3D models. There are a number of user-generated and on-demand marketplaces, similar to CGTrader, which exist today that allows amateurs like you or me to be able to design and make products then sell them. Designers on CGTrader actually make a living from designing and selling purely digital products!

The discussion topic, “Who owns the future of design?”, focused on how proprietary data in an age of computer-generated files, platform distribution, and digital design can create new markets and wider opportunities for designers. We panelists all had unique perspectives but agreed that, with the onset of user-generated content, brand design practices were about to change and fans would have a say in how brands will be used. Brands across all industries should consider embracing this fundamental, bottom-up and platform-based evolution in production. Stephen Burks and his company Man Made are renowned for elegant designs informed by African art forms. Stephen’s 3D models are now available on the CGTrader platform for designers and fans. He notes that only about 10% of his actual designs make it to production and are literally left on the drawing board. Wth CGTrader, he can monetize assets that would otherwise go unseen.

Additionally, the panel investigated how online marketplaces like CGTrader can provide solutions for the long-standing issue of unlicensed parties copying and replicating product designs. Unfortunately, intellectual property law offers very thin protections that leave designers without much legal recourse when their models are used without their permission. Trademark principles protect names, logos, and symbols which can be easily left out of a derivative product. Trade dress can protect only some aesthetic elements of design, while design patents are expensive and limited only to entirely novel elements of a product. UGC marketplaces enable designers to claim and control all aspects of their intellectual property.

We believe that Source3’s unique Intellectual Property Recognition engine can successfully track the occurrences of IP, to provide unique brand insights, licensing opportunities, and useful analytics. Brilliant designers like Stephen and other creators on CGTrader can get data to help them understand who is using their designs, how and where.


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