"In view of the current UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) “Calls for Evidence” and prior to a possible full consultation on designs recommended by Ian Hargreaves and now part of Government's 10 IP recommendations, some IP stakeholders and designers have discussed the idea that simplification of what is to many a complex set of design rights is desirable.
Protection for designers could be made more simple with the abolition of UK unregistered design rights so long as they could rely on copyright protection instead.
This would achieve many objectives, not least parity of rights between unregistered design right and copyright. After all, what is the difference in creative input between an iconic furniture designer and an artist or songwriter and yet in the UK, without registrations, the former relies on ten (realistically five!) years of unregistered protection in the UK and three in Europe -- whereas an artist/songwriter benefits for the life of the author plus 70?
It is also very difficult for some small organisations like ACID to provide evidence-based information about Court cases when very few design cases ever reach a final Court hearing, the majority of them being settled at various stages.Dids explains: while ACID has used all its extensive connections in the design community to work in collaboration and assist the UK IPO to reach a broad base of the design community to complete its questionnaire, we can’t help feeling that the basis of this research is inconsistent with designers’ needs for clear policy.
How many letters before action or cease-and-desist letters have YOU sent out in the past past years?”
The Minister has asked for research on the connection between registered design rights and innovation. The majority of designers in the UK and, indeed globally, rely on unregistered and informal rights. Having said that many designers rely on all the formal rights registered trade marks, copyright and to a much lesser extent patents, why then single out design right in the context of innovation through design?
Innovation happens at an amazingly speedy pace and happens regardless of IP. The language and dialogue should be about innovation, business and commercialisation through the creativity which translates design into tradable IP. That needs the support of a user friendly IP framework when designers (the majority of them small businesses) are copied, and the majority of which is blatant. Damages to dissuade the consistent protagonists, many of them in our own back yard. Effective training of IP intermediaries who can help small businesses creates a proactive IP strategy as part of their marketing and communications plan. These three steps alone would encourage growth and make jobs more secure.
It is amazingly frustrating to see research after research prior to a needless consultation when all the figures thus far produced are in the public domain, some of the statistics on which initial research has been produced are both inaccurate and anecdotal and the basic premise for this self-serving research is, quite frankly, way out of kilter with the requirements of small business entrepreneurs in design.
In the side bar to the right of this weblog you will also find two polls in which you can offer your considered opinion as to the utility of the UK registered design right in a jurisdiction which already offers unregistered design rights at UK and EU level, the Community design right and, at an underlying level, regular copyright. The first poll gives you a chance to say what you feel about the Registered Designs Act 1949, which provides the legislative basis for UK registered design right. The second poll gives you a chance to reflect on what you might like to see in place of that Act, if UK registered designs were scrapped.
Do let us know what you think!