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Locks and Security News: your weekly locks and security industry newsletter
30th November 2022 Issue no. 633

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New UNION guide tackles misleading claims around key copy protection

* UNION-guide.jpgUNION has launched a new guide to highlight the issue of misleading claims around key copy protection, advising merchants to be vigilant against such claims to avoid the fallout that can result from misusing trademarks.

The new guide warns that claims made by some suppliers of cylinder locks to promote their products – such as “unlimited trademark protection” and “lifetime trademark protection” – are misleading.

This is because they imply that the keys are legally protected from unauthorised copying, when in fact a trademark cannot protect a functional element of a product, such as the cross-section of a key.

As UNION states, the only true guarantee against keys being legally copied is patent protection, which is wholly concerned with the functional aspect of a product or process. This is in contrast to trademark protections – which only cover non-functional elements of a product, such as words, phrases, or logos – and design registrations, which again cannot be registered if the features of the shape are purely functional, as with a key.

The new guide coincides with the launch of UNION’s premium and comprehensive master key cylinder range, keyMASTER, which provides building managers with complete control of who can access different areas of their buildings.

With the new keyMASTER range patented until 2036, specifiers and decision-makers can rest assured that only authorised partners can supply replacement keys, and these will always be cut from genuine blanks. In addition, both keyMASTER’s key and cylinder are protected by two patented features, essentially doubling up the key copy protection credentials of the platform.

Craig Birch, Head of Product Management at UNION, comments: “The idea of ‘copyright protection’ or ‘lifetime trademark protection’ has long been a myth in our industry, and one that only someone with a good knowledge of trademark law is likely to see through. That’s why we’re spreading awareness about this issue with our new guide, which highlights the fact that the only way to validate whether a key and cylinder system is safe from key copying is if it is subject to a current patent, like our new keyMASTER range.

“The risk of being taken in by these false claims is significant, with the potential fallout from selling products that misuse trademarks including litigation, orders to remove misleading claims, large fines and even imprisonment. It is therefore vital that this message is understood throughout the industry and that only claims of patent protection are given any credence when it comes to key copy protection.”

To download the new guide, please visit https://d3oaxe41u6vpgy.cloudfront.net/UNIONKeyMASTERKeyProtectionGuide.pdf. 

23rd November 2022




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