Handy Ltd was established in 1991. They have a strong and acknowledged position in the industries of bedding and upholstery manufacturers, office furniture, and the automotive and aerospace sectors. They pride themselves on the ability to create customer driven product development by working closely with customers, offering first class value and quality.
Innovation is at the heart of what makes Handy Ltd a leader in the industry of product design. So knowing all about protecting their Intellectual Property is of high importance to their design process. They have Patents, use ACID benefits, and use the instruction of specialist IP lawyers. All of which enhance the fight to protect their design creativity and integrity.
Handy Ltd use the ACID logo on their homepage as a strong deterrence. They also register their designs and hold Patents. They use the ACID Team and IP lawyers to arm themselves with all the IP knowledge they need to stay on top of trend and keep industry relevance.
Could you tell us a little about the history of Handy Ltd and the driving force behind its success as innovators in the supply of components to bedding and upholstery manufacturers (and other sectors?)
Our core market during the first few years of our existence focused on the garment industry. However, during the late 1990’s we watched the vast majority of UK garment manufacturing move off-shore to lower labour-cost countries. Fortunately, we had several products in our range that were common to the UK bedding and upholstery manufacturers, and we were forced to focus increasingly on these potential markets which were less exposed to cheap and cheerful finished products flooding the UK market (although there continues to be a tranche of poorly made finished upholstery and mattresses still entering the UK even today).
Why do you think Handy Ltd is a market leader and survives in such a competitive market some 30 years after its inception?
The clothing industry had taught us the value of design-led product development both from a visual and functional viewpoint. We brought this experience to our new markets. We widened our range of components based on novelty and application rather than just simply offering products that already existed in the market and that were already being sold to our customers.
As a result of your investment in design, skill, and craftsmanship, Handy Ltd is a leader not a follower. Your components are subject to patents, and you appear to take your intellectual property very seriously. Have you ever been copied and if so, how you discover and deal with infringements?
We got hurt in those early days as competitors cherry-picked certain of the more successful components in our range and copied these. In 2003 we were granted our first patent. That first patent application took time (and some patience!), and we needed a lot of professional guidance. But we soon appreciated the value of IP protection. It has become the final element of any new product development. Our IP catalogue is now extensive, and we have learned how to file both patents and design registrations far more efficiently. In more recent years ACID has supported us in this process.
We are very protective of our creativity and of the imagination and functionality we bring to our newly developed components. We highly value the skill and craftsmanship of our Design Team.
What is your message about the copy culture that pervades some of the furnishing’s sector and those who ride rough shod over the law?
There continues to be a “let’s copy” culture within society and this inevitably pervades our markets at times. We do not hesitate in instructing our dedicated IP lawyers to take the appropriate action when we come across design infringements by our competitors. And thus, our reputation as a company that leads our sector of the market grows.
We now have an IP Act which will mean not only criminal provisions for intentional Registered design infringement but also for individual directors. Do you believe that if this is extended to unregistered designs infringement, it will become more of a deterrent?
Although we now have an IP Act which will mean not only criminal provisions for intentional commercial Registered design infringement but also for individual directors, we feel this does not go far enough. Why not extend this to intentional unregistered design infringement? After all copying is copying!!
Can you give us a steer on what you feel ACID’s achievements have been and what we could do in the future to raise further awareness about IP theft?
We value the support that ACID have provided us and appreciate the constant pressure they apply upon Government for further Design and IP reform.