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From the Newsdesk

ACID Campaign Summary 2023 – a Snapshot

Ambassadors: During 2023 we announced the addition of Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE. (Liberal Democrat Peer), Chris Dunsford (Triclimb v Aldi) and Rupert Welch (MD of Robert Welch) as its new Ambassadors, positively advocating our issues and bolstering efforts for design law reform.

Designs Consultation 2024: In advance of the Designs Consultation (expected in June 2024), ACID created a “Top Ten” of non-legislative reforms to progress in positive and regular meetings with Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Some progress has been made. (see Top Ten here).[i] Chris Mills, Director of Enforcement & Policy, has given his full backing to our ACID-IPO collaborations, reflecting a supportive stance. ACID’s campaign for a National IP Insurance scheme has been included in a recent IPO research study (here). ACID has concerns that this misses out a large part of the Creative Industries (and design) as a means of self-identification with outdated ONS SIC Codes data model in the context of design and the creative industries.

Events: At a Westminster Forum event (The Future of IP), ACID engaged with Intellectual Property Office (IPO) CEO, Adam Williams, posing questions about IPO support for SME’s facing infringement issues. Williams acknowledged a delayed Designs Consultation and a pro-bono advice scheme (which doesn’t seem to exist). Another question raised was the delay in implementing the inclusion of Registered Designs in the Small Claims Track, prompting a commitment by him to investigate.

Ministerial Round Table: Ministerial: As Tier One stakeholders, ACID participated in a Ministerial Round Table, advocating for criminal provisions and addressing copying challenges faced by SME designers. Dids MacDonald emphasised the need for a better understanding of SME challenges within the IPO’s objectives, focussing on customers  – the non-lawyer end users of the system. Expectations for a streamlined IPO, improved pro bono advice, unified IP, and a clearer customer focus were outlined.

ACID’s engagement extended to the Design Council, The Design Economy is now quoting figures of £100billion as design’s worth to the UK’s GVA, employing 1.97 million in design and design skills).A staggering one in 20 of us are involved in one way or another!

Dids Macdonald sits on the Creative Industries Council IP Sub-group looking at AI, Online theft, and trade agreements. Papers have been submitted to Government on these priorities prior to the publication of a White Paper on IP.

At a recent conference “What does the future hold for the Creative Industries,” it seemed at last there is much to celebrate following the recent announcement from the Treasury that it recognises the Creative Industries as one of the five areas of growth in the UK. Billions have been made available through the Creative Industries Sector Vision and the second tranche of funding for music and design is now open. See Source Creative UK for more information. Speakers urged those within the sector to re-engage with the Creative Industries Vision (here) and forge connections with the 50 newly creative clusters in the UK.

An ACID IP Charter was launched to attract all those who have a passion for creativity and safeguarding their futures, in which we ask the design sector and all those involved to sign the Charter, advocating IP respect, ethics and compliance. If you haven’t signed, join many who have signed and are now aligned to a stronger ACID Community.

MP Engagement: Letters were written to MPs addressing concerns about platform infringement using member case studies. Positive responses have been received from some online platforms such as Amazon and Etsy.

British IP Day: ACID’s campaign for IP reform continued with meetings, consultations and participation on British IP Day. ACID highlighted issues of online infringement and sought support from political figures. Dids Macdonald is a member of the Creative Industries Council IP sub-group and discussions have taken place and papers have been submitted on AI, Online infringement and the latest CPTPP negotiations. Sadly, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) does not focus highly enough on IP; specifically, design continues to be the poor cousin in protection, terms and its position on criminalisation prompted considerations of ACID forming a new campaigning group focused on design issues. Design includes copyright, trade marks and, to a lesser extent, patents.

Research: Research Experts Advisory Group: Following a preliminary presentation by Professor Bruce Tether on Design Protection,the ACID Council and CEO fed back on what they considered to be shortfalls in the research. The research is due to be published by the end of year and at which time ACID offer a formal review then.

Government Consultations: ACID and its Legal Affiliates contributed to both IPO consultations on digital transformation which it is hoped will benefit all members when registering IP. Disquiet about IPO strategy was expressed, emphasising the need for grassroots relevance in terms of enforcement. Collaborations with Swiss lawyer Michael Ritscher have taken place exploring copyright as a protection for designs; ACID’s paper to WIPO on SME issues with design law and copying has been submitted and Nick Kounoupias will represent ACID on a global IP stage in Geneva in Jan/Feb.

The Future: ACID has prepared a Manifesto for the next period of our work (here). In conclusion, ACID’s recent activities highlight its ongoing efforts in advocating for design law reform, addressing challenges faced by SMEs, engaging with policymakers, and a strong resolve to continue to better represent design issues. Whilst significant steps have been taken, there are still mountains to climb to address blatant, mainly unpunished design and online design theft. With support from our legal affiliates, extensive partners, and a wonderful team, we are firmly resolved to make the next period a safer one for those who creativity makes UK design one of the best sectors in the UK.

[i] ACID Top Ten legislative and non-legislative work streams with the IPO

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