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From the Newsdesk

Designers – Seize a Rare Opportunity to Share Your Views on the Current Design and IP Framework

ACID agrees with the UK Intellectual Property Office that an effective intellectual property (IP) system is absolutely vital to the government’s ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to innovate. But is it, what are your views? It will only take a few minutes to respond to the IPO survey.

The UK IPO say, “The designs system enables rights holders to protect designs and enforce their rights. We want to make sure the designs system works for everyone who uses it.”

They are conducting a review of the designs system and have developed a survey to seek views from anyone with an interest in designs and how they are protected. It is particularly aimed at designers, designer-makers and those who do not consider themselves IP experts.

The survey is an opportunity for designers, design-led businesses, and manufacturers to have their say on the future of how designs are protected in the UK.

Dids Macdonald, OBE ACID’s CEO said, “We welcome this rare opportunity for designers, design-led businesses, and manufacturers from our colleagues at the Intellectual Property Office to have their say on the future of how designs are protected in the UK. I hope that Government will listen and act on some of the real concerns of the designers that we represent and that they do not have to wait a further decade for much needed design law reform.”

Further ACID information

  • The survey precedes a more in-depth Call for Views in Q1 which is well overdue. In 2012 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron following Hargreaves recommendations said that design law had been neglected. A decade later design law is still over-complicated, little understood and has been eroded even more with the loss of EU27 unregistered Community design last year with still no clarity on simultaneous publication despite 4 years of request from ACID.
  • For the past 15+ years we have sent numerous case studies to the IPO to support the fact that not nearly enough is done to protect designers or to give them cost and timely access to enforcement. Now is the opportunity for designers to have their say. Missing from the survey are some important questions which need answers. For example, are designers aware that criminal provisions are NOT available for the intentional infringement of an unregistered design (UDR). As most designers rely on UDR, now is the opportunity to raise this in the survey.
  • Designers continue to be baffled by a law that makes it a criminal offence to copy a two-dimensional design drawing but when that drawing is converted into a 3D product there is no criminal offence involved should it be copied. This is both unfair and ridiculous. Government’s (IPO) main arguments are that this would/could be “chilling for innovation and lead to business uncertainty.” These comments were made by patent lawyers and IP academics. We continue to challenge this at the highest level. Holding individual directors to account whose strategy is to copy could be very good for innovation rather than the opposite!
  • UK designers are some of the best, but we still live in a world where there is no real deterrent against the copycat culture – policy does not take account of the designers’ sweat equity in bringing designs to market or easy access to justice if they are copied. Take a look at the hopeless David & Goliath case of one our members Triclimb and Aldi. And Robe de Voyage v COS who stonewall challenge and perpetuate litigation, impossible for lone, micro and SMEs.
  • The majority of UK designers rely on unregistered designs, not because it is expensive to register but because litigation is the luxury of the few and taking legal action is prohibitively expensive for the majority.
  • This survey is a great opportunity to tell the IPO about copying issues you may have and, if they agree, support our ongoing campaign for criminal provisions to be made law for the intentional infringement of an unregistered design as a real deterrent.
  • In our recent surveys, 92% and 91% said copying was blatant and deliberate. This survey is an opportunity to ask the broader design community about the IP framework and also to quantify how much is lost through design theft (missing from the survey).

Campaigning for design law reform is close to all who belong to the ACID community’s heart. Afterall, with a UK design GVA of £85.2 billion employing 1.69 million in design and design skills, ACID believes that this survey is timely to find out designers’ pulse on the current IP framework.

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