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From the Newsdesk

Double Standards? Sunday Times Article Supports UK Highs Street “Dupes” AKA Knock Offs

ACID invites the Times Newspapers on behalf of their journalists to sign the ACID IP Charter here 

Interiors Editor Katrina Burrough’s article in a recent Sunday Times Home Magazine accurately highlights the proliferation of cheap, lookalike designer products available across UK high streets but instead of condoning the plethora of knock off choices, she celebrates them as a unique buying point for consumers and a free shout out for the many retailers who clearly use others’ intellectual property without permission and remain unchallenged.

Comparing designer “dupes” to their pricey originals shows a zero understanding of the craft upon which she, presumably, relies for her livelihood and spent many years honing i.e., the copyright in her journalism. Funnily enough Ms Burroughs, designers rely on another intellectual property right, design right, for the products they design, so they can monetise them and make a living.

Burroughs active encouragement to buy dupes, is nothing short of outrageous and equally at odds with her employers, given Times Newspapers strict intellectual property and ages old copyright rules. Double standards or what? “Our (Times Newspapers’) content, trademarks, copyright, patents, logos, domain names and other related intellectual property rights or other features of our brand belong to us or to our licensors. Your use of our services does not grant you any rights in our, and/or our licensors,’ intellectual property whether for commercial or non-commercial use”.

Designing and manufacturing a product is no small feat. From design concept to prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and sales. It’s a labour of love, coupled with relentless determination and sweat equity before you earn a single penny. So why should Burroughs think it’s OK for well-known high street names to shamelessly produce look alike’s, and trample over someone else’s livelihood. “Dupes” is an almost celebratory and sanitised word for unauthorised and intentional use of a registered design which is a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison. So, when you want to buy a cheap “dupe” just think about the designer who designed the original.

Burroughs asks, “avoiding illegal copies and actual rip-offs – should you be enjoying interiors dupes guilt free? “Nearly always!” she cries. I will be fascinated to hear what design originators such as Wishbone, Aram, Jenifer Manners, Colours of Arly, Skandium, Heals, Alfred Newell and Anglepoise think about Ms Burroughs expansive article, when the likes of Dunelm, Ikea, Aldi, M & S are free riding on their IP with impunity.

Dids Macdonald OBE, CEO of ACID said, “Imitations are not flattery, if it costs you your business and it nearly cost me mine many years ago, this is why I started Anti Copying in Design. Burroughs completely diminishes the value of original design playing scant regard to the designer who brought the original to market. In our 25 years’ experience there have been thousands of settlements against retailers who think they are above the law. Brands should be aware of reputational damage as original designers are getting angrier. Think of Banksy’s recent outrage against retailer Guess when he discovered the unauthorised use of one his works, Banksy calls on ‘all shoplifters’ to steal from Guess over copyright row!” Instant climb down and reputational damage for Guess. So my message to the high street is, commission design, don’t copy it and above all don’t steal it”.

In the context of Ms Burrough’s article we have written the following about IP rights’ ownership and what we believe is a standard expected of journalists.

Accuracy and Fairness: IP creators would expect an article to accurately represent their work and attribute it appropriately. They would assess whether the article fairly portrays their creations or if it distorts facts or misrepresents their contributions.

Respect for Intellectual Property Rights: IP creators value the protection of their intellectual property rights. They would look for signs that the article respects copyright laws and does not encourage or condone unauthorised use or infringement of their work.

Ethical Considerations: IP creators may evaluate whether the article adheres to ethical standards in journalism, such as avoiding plagiarism, providing proper citations, and obtaining consent for any interviews or use of personal information.

Impact on Reputation and Business: Articles can significantly impact an IP creator’s reputation and business prospects. Therefore, they would scrutinize whether the article enhances or undermines their reputation and whether it has potential implications for their commercial interests.

Engagement and Dialogue: IP creators may appreciate articles that stimulate constructive dialogue and engagement with their work, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation among readers. They would assess whether the article contributes positively to discussions surrounding their creations.

Ultimately, from an IP creator’s perspective, the validity of “Spot the Difference” or any similar article lies in its ability to represent their intellectual property while fostering meaningful engagement and dialogue accurately, ethically, and respectfully. Any deviations from these standards could raise concerns and warrant further evaluation or response from the IP creator.

ACID’s invites both the Sunday Times and Katrina Burroughs to sign our ACID IP Charter to show their IP respect, ethics and compliance here 

Editors Notes – ACID’s Spot the Difference page is vastly different to the Sunday Times article!

Inspirational or Blatant Copying?

Spot the difference between these original and copied designs

In our Spot the Difference gallery, we’ve showcased our members’ stories of senseless design theft, highlighting examples of original design and the legal cases that have ensued from blatant copies. For too long designers have felt helpless against copyists, especially if they are big companies because design law is so complex. We cite very small sample of some of the many case studies against retailers and manufacturers.

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