“Getting Started” – Intellectual Property protection in the Silversmith, Goldsmith & Jewellery sector


At a packed event at the Goldsmiths Centre, designer graduates heard about the basics of IP law and received an introduction to simple steps that can be taken in the creation of a proactive IP strategy from industry partners, ACID. The Design Lawyer, Gavin Llewellyn, Partner at ACID’s Affiliate Lawyers Stone King guided delegates through some of the do’s and don’ts on design protection whilst offering practical advice on licensing and what to do if copied.

Getting Started is a one-week introduction to business course for 30 of the most talented UK designer-makers who have graduated from a certificated Precious Metal course in the last five years. If you are in this sector, don’t miss the opportunity of applying to be part of next year’s intake. Join the selection process asap.

Click here to view the presentation.

Dids Macdonald, OBE., CEO of ACID said, “As a product designer and interior designer, I found out the hard way about being copied so I started a round table action group nearly twenty years ago – now ACID represents 1000’s of designers. We campaign, we shout loudly about the value of design and we have a formidable track record of thousands of settlements and mediations. Are you IP Savvy? Do you have a proactive IP strategy? Remember! Imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you YOUR business so it’s good to think about your IP. Intellectual capital is the DNA running through most businesses whether macro or micro. It is about your knowledge, know-how and how to protect it and achieve growth. Intellectual property is a property right – so in the same way that you can lease, sell, sub-let, rent or share your home… you don’t want squatting! So, it is about permission to use your property and asserting your ownership. Intellectual property in legal terms is about trade marks, your brand, copyright, the written, audio or spoken word or 2D designs, designs whether registered or unregistered and patents for inventions.

Being a silversmith, goldsmith or jewellery designer takes a lot of skill and creativity and it is important that you protect your work. The majority in this sector are micro and SME but, nevertheless, contribute to a bigger design story success story, worth £85.2 to the UK economy and growing at 10% per year. Taking legal action, if you are copied, is the luxury of the few so adopting a proactive approach to design protection is critical. Design matters, from iconic to everyday, design is all around us, enriching our lives as consumers and solving problems. Design is also a communicator; think about all the messages on your products, product labelling, email signatures, website etc. As the inventor Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favours a prepared mind” and this is so true, so creating a proactive IP strategy to protect your work is essential. Most of the elements of an effective IP strategy really are common sense and low cost.”

ACID’s tips to create a proactive IP Strategy including the following:


Create one! If you don’t know what do to protect your work, you will be ill-equipped if things go wrong!


IP isn’t rocket-science, download a little plain old common sense. Become IP savvy, by attending IP events, attending IP workshops seminars and webinars, for example.


Know your design right from your copyright, your trade marks from your patents and understand some of the myths surrounding IP. For example, it is wrong to think that someone can change a design by a certain percentage and it becomes a new design. Be specific, look at what you are designing and think about what rights you need to know about.  Developing and maintaining and growing your brand is critical – so make sure you have registered your trade mark! The Intellectual Property Office is a great resource for webinars and IP tutoring sessions. www.ipo.gov.uk


Look at the territories in which you trade – ensure you have the right protection and support. For example, if you are trading in China have you registered your design rights? Chinese registrations (design patents) differ from UK in that there is a threshold of global novelty. The UKIPO have appointed IP Attachés in China, South East Asia, Brazil and India and they are a great hands-on resource for useful help and support.


Think about what makes your company unique and guard your trade secrets, as if they were Crown jewels, so create confidentiality agreements for sensitive information. Clarity of IP ownership is critical, particularly if there is an issue. It costs a lot more to disentangle things if there is a dispute if ownership is clear. Not reading the small print makes lawyers rich!


Lock up your IP and unlock growth using ACID’s own IP Databank (for copyright & designs) which holds copies of over 300,000 designs, so if you have an idea, keep it safe. A UK or EU registered design, for example, is a monopoly right and lasts for 25 years (EU stays the same at the moment and won’t realistically change for at least 2 years). ACID has consolidated the deterrent effect of the ACID IP Databank in partnership with PIPCU, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. We now have a downloadable certificate to prove your IP lodgement with its own unique, reference number, which adds to protection and deterrence.


Corporate Social Responsibility – Think about encouraging an ethos of compliance and respect – if we as designers don’t do it no-one else will!


Manage Your Risks! Obvious, but keep looking at the competition, identify who the copyists are and keep an eye out offline and online on major platforms. Having a brand protection and enforcement Policy for knock offs discovered online is essential.


Proof of IP ownership is essential and when you have this, don’t forget to always get the right sort of advice – IP lawyers (many of them are ACID legal affiliates) with specialist sector experience, The IPO, ACID. But choose battles carefully – never sue on principle. Ask yourself ‘is there a quantifiable loss’ consider the evidence of your design corpus, what is the size of the opponent, can you afford to keep going? Don’t forget, to publicise any settlements, such as this, which will add to the deterrent factor of your brand. No-one likes their name associated with being a copycat, so a good naming and shaming exercise can work wonders!


If you don’t want to be copied – shout loudly. Include an IP statement on your website, marketing material product labelling etc., and it helps, if you are a member of ACID, to use the logo on your website. Look at what Innermost do, they have a whole page and their message is translated into 15 different languages.

And, lastly don’t forget to think about Brexit! Most UK designers rely on unregistered design right, and potentially, designers will lose IP protection in 27-member states. Crucially if you lose the ability to rely on unregistered EU design you will only be able to rely on UK unregistered design right, a much weaker right, and you will not have automatic protection in Europe. So please, show your support and email Brexit@acid.uk.com and join the growing numbers of UK designers so that ACID can demonstrate to Government and policy makers the need for the best possible negotiations.