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Designers Call to Action – Consultation on the IP Enforcement Framework

The Government, through its agency, the Intellectual Property Office, has called for evidence to form the basis of an Enforcement Framework on which policy will be based for the next five years. The IPO has no enforcement powers but instead provides strategic leadership by developing policies, ensuring the legal framework is fit for purpose, coordinating activity, and supporting operational enforcement activity through the IPO Intelligence Hub.

Information on the consultation can be found here.

Preamble

Prior to this consultation a Working Group of 16 members was set up co-chaired by an IPO Official and Sir Robin Jacob in October 2019 to help the IPO achieve its aim of identifying if and what issues rights holders and businesses face protecting their IP when using the current IP enforcement framework. The group met with the caveat to identify issues that were practical and deliverable.

The issues raised by this committee to form the basis of a 5-year IP enforcement Framework are:

  • The cost of legal challenges
  • The costs from defending an action
  • The accessibility and effectiveness of the judicial process and suggested remedies such as improvements to processes at the Small Claims Track (SCT) at the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) and introduction of a statutory damage’s regime
  • Inclusion of registered designs within the scope of the small claims track (SCT) of the IPEC

Online infringement – Missing from the above enforcement remit are addressing serious issues surrounding online infringement which the working group claim are being dealt with by voluntary initiatives developing with the creative industries roundtables. In reality, progress is painfully slow. ACID believes that online infringement is so serious that the two should work in tandem with heightened voluntary agreements reinforced by much tougher enforcement.

Also omitted from the remit, the Criminalisation of Unregistered Design Rights – For example, why a song writer could rely on criminal courts for infringement, but a designer is unable to do so. The principle adopted by Government to support the introduction of criminal provisions for the intentional infringement of a registered design was to act as a strong deterrent against copying. As the majority of designers rely on unregistered design rights, coupled with the now published rejection of reciprocity by EU27 of unregistered Community design our UK design industry will be severely disadvantaged. ACID urges the Government to consider including this reform in any future Enforcement Strategy to protect the second biggest design sector in the world, the United Kingdom’s designers.

How can you help? – let us know if you can provide case study evidence on the above issues by completing the attached very short questionnaire and sending it to info@acid.uk.com

ACID questionnaire – we urgently need case studies and evidence to achieve not only improvements to the UK enforcement system as outlined by the advisory group but to extend the scope to address escalating online infringement and introduce criminal provisions for unregistered design infringement to be included.