Jan 7, 2015

IP act becomes law - Better protection for designers

At the beginning of October the Intellectual Property Act (IP Act) became law, heralding better protection for designers. It is now a crime to intentionally infringe a registered design and individual board directors can also be held accountable. This is good news for anyone involved in product design, where previously, IP law has not fully protected them. The changes which are set out in the IP Act have been introduced to:

Reduce the scale of registered design infringement, by acting as a deterrent
Increase protection for the holders of registered designs
Better punish perpetrators of blatant design infringement 

It will therefore become a criminal offence, punishable by up to ten years in prison, to intentionally infringe a registered design and produce a copy that differs from an original in only immaterial respects. This represents some real progress for designers but for the moment, the change in the law will only help those who have registered their designs at either the Intellectual Property Office in England or at the Community Design Office in Alicante.  It does not cover unregistered designs. Niall Head-Rapson, director of McDaniel & Co, is an expert in IP law and sits on the advisory panel of ACID (Anti Copying In Design), which is a membership trade organisation, established by designers for designers to raise awareness and encourage respect for IP.  ACID has been lobbying for many years to demonstrate the scale of the problem and to address a shortfall in the law to protect designers.  Niall comments that: "There are over 350,000 design companies in Britain so we were delighted when the Prime Minister listened to us, eventually introducing Design and IP Law in the Queen's Speech in November 2013.  This then travelled a tortuous route through the House of Lords and the House of Commons, to finally receive Queen's Assent on 14th May.  It is really good news for any company involved in originating new designs or products. "To get fundamental legislation of this type from the lobbying process and into law in less than 12 months is an amazing achievement. The proposed changes are both sensible and pragmatic but we would argue that there are powerful reasons for including unregistered designs also." ACID's chief executive, Dids McDonald, added:  "I welcome the fact that the IP Act is a significant step in the right direction.  However, there is still much work to be done because the majority of UK designers rely on unregistered rights." "The next step is to persuade Government to include unregistered designs, exemplary damages and unfair competition.  (At the moment our EU designer counterparts can turn to unfair competition laws if IP laws fail them)." Niall Head-Rapson was involved in the first ever patent case held outside the City and his team offers full service advice on matters relating to IP law including trademark, patent, copyright and design matters and commercial matters generally. The firm is highly rated in the areas of fashion, greetings, homewares and interiors, jewellery and furniture.

Posted by: in: Civil Procedure, Designs, News, Regulatory

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