What is the CPTPP? The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam.
In yesterday’s debate, Lord Foster of Bath said, “The whole House has accepted on many occasions that our creative industries have become the powerhouse of the economy, and intellectual property rights and their enforcement are their lifeblood”.
“How right he is” said Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO, “And yet in the discussions in the House of Lords designers have not been differentiated in terms of IP rights. The interest of copyright is highlighted whereas to date, design right is sidelined. This is a familiar situation when discussing IP rights, design right is always the poor relation”.
How will the CPTPP affect designers from an IP perspective? What are the current concerns?
The majority of UK and global 3D designers rely on unregistered design rights (UDR), spanning furniture, product, lighting, fashion, and many other sectors. In the UK it is not a crime to use an unregistered design without permission.
Universally, amongst other IP rights, there is a disparity and uneven playing field for designers, and design right is often referred to as the “Cinderella” right.
The UK design regime is complex. Post Brexit, designers lost the valuable automatic protection of Unregistered Community design rights lasting for 3 years in EU27 leaving them vulnerable if there is no clarity about simultaneous publication.
Globally, design protection is even more complex, with very little protection for unregistered designs. Most designers are lone, micro and SME and rely on unregistered design rights nationally and globally, and it is too costly and time prohibitive to take legal action, especially on a global stage.
For example, in the UK there is a new Supplementary Unregistered Design (SUD) right lasting 3 years; an unregistered design right (covering shape and configuration) lasting between 10 and 15 years; and a registered design right lasting 25 years.
Whereas, in Australia, registered design right lasts for 10 years and there is no protection for unregistered designs. In the other 10 member countries of CPTPP, there is also no unregistered design rights protection and there is no commitment for CPTPP members to become signatories to the Hague Agreement under the Geneva Act, which enables the registration of an international design.
The consequences of not recognising the importance of reciprocity in designs globally in the CPTPP are:
That unless there is a focus on reciprocity it is likely that the UK’s design exports will be compromised within a CPTPP agreement without the correct safeguards. Nationally, UK design and design skills produce nearly £100 billion to the UK’s GVA.