First, to ensure complete disclosure, I am an intellectual property attorney but none of what I am saying here is legal advise.
Over the last few months of browsing this and other blogs, I have become rather upset about the misinformation being posted on these sites. I have seen many entries on Lumberjocks and elsewhere debating how to protect furniture design—and most of the comments are simply misinformed.
I would like to direct your attention to a very recent case: Universal Furniture Internation, Inc. v. Collezione Euorpa USA, Inc., argued before the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit (Nos. 07-2180, 09-1437 (2010)). In the case, Universal sued Collezione for unfringement under the Copyright Act for copying a line of furniture made by Universal. The court found in favor of Universal to the tune of $11 Million dollars.
My point is not that you can or may win millions but that your designs can be protected. If you have an original idea, whether it is a piece of furniture, a shop jig, or whatever, contact an intellectual property attorney—let them talk to you about your options (whether it is copyrights, design patents, trademarks, etc.). Much of this work does not cost as much as you may think and, if you’re serious, the IP attorney can help protect your imaginative ideas from being stolen.
-- Tadd, Denver, http://patentcraftsman.com/