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Campaigning Manifesto

A Quarter of a Century Later – A Manifesto Committed to Design & IP

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Anti Copying in Design (ACID) stands as the foremost voice on design and Intellectual Property (IP) in the UK. Over the years, ACID has evolved into a pivotal player in championing the rights of designers, with a particular focus on combatting unregistered design infringement.

Criminalising Unregistered Design Infringement: A Necessary Step

One of ACID’s landmark achievements is the advocacy for the intentional infringement of an unregistered design to be recognised as a criminal offence. Despite concerns from opponents suggesting potential chilling effects on innovation and business uncertainty, ACID has consistently argued that criminalising such infringement is essential for protecting the hard work and ingenuity invested by designers. This step not only reinforces the severity of the offence but also acts as a potent deterrent against illicit activities. Unregistered design infringement poses a significant threat to innovation and creativity. While civil remedies offer some protection, they are inaccessible to the majority of UK designers who are SMEs, because of cost and time constraints. The introduction of criminal provisions sends a clear message about the legal system’s commitment to uphold intellectual property rights. This approach safeguards the rights of designers, fosters an environment conducive to innovation, and ensures that creators can reap the rewards of their endeavours without fear of unauthorised copying. Additionally, criminal provisions empower law enforcement to take swift action against perpetrators, especially in the digital age where replication challenges IP rights. In summary, incorporating criminal provisions into the legal framework for unregistered design infringement is crucial for bolstering IP protection, preserving innovation incentives, and signalling a strong commitment to upholding designers’ rights amid evolving challenges.

The Design Economy’s Success Story

The design economy, a significant contributor to UK growth, employs approximately 1.97 million people and contributes nearly £100 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA), accounting for 4.9% of the country’s overall growth. ACID conducted two surveys revealing that approximately 90% of respondents believe copying is blatant and deliberate, underscoring the urgency of addressing design infringement.

Focus on Government Collaboration and AI Principles

Looking ahead, ACID’s focus will be to collaborate positively with the government, ensuring cost-effective and timely access to justice. The organisation aims to address the stress faced by lone designers, micro-businesses, and corporations dealing with continuing infringement before an expected Designs Consultation in 2024. Additionally, ACID remains actively engaged in discussions around Artificial Intelligence (AI), supporting the establishment of high-level principles for AI developers, emphasising securing consent, transparency, and robust systems to avoid IP infringement. Paramount is that IP creators are not disadvantaged by unauthorised use.

Under continuing discussion are:

  • IP Insurance
  • Inclusion of registered design infringement in IPEC
  • Simplification of legal process for design disputes

Online Infringement and Accountability Measures

ACID continues discussions on holding businesses accountable for online infringement, advocating for the enforcement of “Know Your Business Customer” (KYBC) obligations. This transparency obligation, existing under the 2001 E-Commerce Directive, should be reinforced with dissuasive financial penalties for non-compliance.

Key Achievements to Date

ACID’s 25-year journey is marked by several key achievements:

  • Founding Anti Copying in Design
  • Successfully lobbying for a name change from Patent Office to IP Office
  • Campaigning for a dedicated IP Minister in the UK
  • Co-founding the Alliance for IP and contributing to the establishment of the IP Crime Group
  • Influencing the increase in copyright criminal term from 2 to 10 years in 2002
  • Creating a groundbreaking alternative dispute resolution protocol with 5000+ successful outcomes
  • Championing the Small Claims Track introduction to the IPEC in 2008
  • Successfully lobbying for fee reduction for registering designs
  • Influencing the introduction of intentional infringement of a registered design as a crime in the 2014 IP Act
  • Advocating for a new Supplementary unregistered design right post-Brexit
  • The organisation’s impact is further highlighted by the acknowledgment of former IPO CEO Ron Marchant, stating that ACID has “changed the whole perception of Design as IP over the last 25 years.”

In conclusion, ACID’s quarter-century journey has been marked by a relentless commitment to protecting designers’ rights, influencing legislative changes, and shaping the narrative around the importance of IP in the design landscape. As the organisation looks ahead, its focus remains on collaboration, innovation, and ensuring a robust framework for IP protection in the ever-evolving landscape of design, design skills, crafts, and technology.

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