Government has put its full weight behind an IP Bill, passed by the House of Lords in July and to be debated in the House of Commons on 20th January which will introduce criminal provisions for deliberate registered design theft. Clause 13 will provide consistency with copyright and trade mark infringement where the ultimate sanction is a criminal sentence!
Dids Macdonald, Anti Copying in Design’s (ACID) CEO said, “After a 15 year campaign on behalf of the UK’s designers we welcome this move which we hope will have a huge deterrent effect on those companies intent on deliberately copying small, innovative and creative designers. The majority of us wouldn’t dream of stealing a loaf of bread so why is it OK to steal someone’s designs and potential livelihood?”
Sebastian Conran: Sebastian Conran Associates., said, “I believe that IP is a key catalyst and engine of innovation and growth. However, we should expect to be suitably rewarded for our efforts without having our initiatives stolen. Innovation is a high risk strategy and defending rights’ infringement can be onerous”
ACID Ambassador, designer and broadcaster Kevin McCloud and founder of HAB Housing, said, “I wholeheartedly support an IP Bill that values and respects original design. New and innovative ideas are vital to the design industry and the future of the UK’s economy. Britain is stuffed with talented designers whose work often goes unnoticed or un-credited. I’m frustrated that as a designer, that the majority of SME’s and design sole traders do not have the funds to pay for design registrations as they compete against the majority of copyists who are the retailers and manufacturers. I would ask Government for support for Clause 13 to be extended to unregistered design s as the majority of the UK (and EU designers ) rely on unregistered”
SMEs are positive about Government’s commitment to include criminal provisions for deliberate registered design infringement but many agreed that Government needs also to include unregistered designs. Heather Culpan MD of Burgon & Ball said, “Having experienced 20 separate copying cases in the very short time span of 2 years all of which have been based on unregistered designs, I really do wonder what the opposing argument is? Opponents also say it could stifle innovation - yet at the same time admitting that if you are innocent you have nothing to hide/lose/be worried about. So what is the argument?”
Cynthia Wilkinson, no stranger to experiencing copying on a grand scale when she was MD of Mark Wilkinson Furniture added, “I built up our company, Mark Wilkinson with my husband/designer and we had to spend a quarter of a million pounds pursuing infringement of our unregistered designs in Court. This design is still a best seller today, has now become the first Design Classic in the fitted furniture industry and this would not have been possible had ferocious copying been allowed”
Zoe Simpson of Elizabeth Gage Ltd®, a renowned jewellery designer, said, “We have been copied mercilessly and deliberately and were forced to take legal action on countless occasions. If someone comes in to our showroom and steals a ring worth thousands, they have committed a crime and I can call the Police. However, if someone steals one of our designs, the effects can be catastrophic and has a real impact on our growth potential and job security. It is only fair to the many small businesses that rely on constantly innovating and designing that their unregistered designs are offered full protection by the law and the new IP Bill is a historic opportunity.”