ACIDIPOcpAt a positive meeting held with the new Chief Executive of the UK Intellectual Property Office, John Alty,  and Andrew Layton, Director of Trade Marks and Designs, Dids Macdonald outlined ACID’s ongoing lobbying priorities for improvements to the intellectual property framework for designers within the Creative Industries. Commenting on the talks, Dids said, “In line with our current Number 10 lobbying campaigns to improve the damages system and create criminal sanctions for design infringement, it was timely to reinforce ACID’s key messages.”

Left to Right Andrew Layton, Dids Macdonald and John Alty

Accompanied by ACID LOBBY’s Chief legal counsel, Nick Kounoupias, of ACID Accredited law firm DMH Stallard, Nick said of the talks, “Designs have been the poorer relation in the family of intellectual property rights for some time.  Whereas copyright issues are always on the agenda of the IPO, design right concerns are usually relegated to the status ‘any other business’, yet the continuing damage to UK SME’s and individual designers from the theft of their creations is colossal.”

Macdonald said, “Unless there is a stronger role for enforcement in UK IP policy and help for UK’s micro enterprises and SME’s to address IP infringement, they will continue to rely on perpetual innovation to beat copyists, which is self defeating. The balance would appear to be skewed as IP creation is not a short term activity. As 1 in 3 businesses believe the recession will lead to more infringements, there is a very real need for stronger enforcement . To date the   common feature of every recession has been the creation of a fast track to market through IP infringement and ACID has witnessed a massive rise in interest  in online infringements. However, currently there is little focus on design infringement. Although the UK is ranked 1st for its IP framework, this does not reflect the true problem facing the Creative Industries, 70% of whom employ less than 4 people. SME’s need a robust means of protecting, fully exploiting and enforcing their IP rights. At the moment this simply does not happen because the majority of SME’s cannot afford to take legal action. Since first mooted in 2003, there are still no accurate figures on the scale of copying within the creative industries in 2010.  The criteria and methodology of identifying this scale is questionable, if relying on court cases, because most of the evidence is applied in the media sector and based on criminal court cases and seizure.”

Dids was keen to ensure that the incoming Chief Executive and his team would address the lack of acknowledgement by policy makers of design and its role in IP creation in the consultative process.

John Alty, incoming Chief Executive of the UK IPO commented “IPO are keen to work collaboratively with ACID and other organisations interested in designs with the aim of ensuring that more UK companies know about the value of design registration.”

ACID LOBBY was created in 2004 to lobby at grass roots and t Government level to make the voice of design heard loudly and clearly, to influence policy making decisions and to acknowledge  design’s role as a key contributor to the UK’s GDP. Design right is a comparatively new intellectual property right, and the least well-known and acknowledged, which seems out of kilter with the fact that every successful product has been designed. IP in design, therefore, has great value for the UK economy, provided it is properly protected. The UK is increasingly earning more from designing successful products than from manufacturing them and ACID’s membership, comprising micro enterprises, SME’s and some major brands, are key contributors.

ACID LOBBY OBJECTIVES remain consistent

  • Addressing the disparity between copyright and design right
  • Criminal Sanctions for Design Right infringement
  • Moral Rights for designers who rely on design right
  • Period of protectionto be  reviewed (currentlyUK unregistered design 15 years, EU unregistered design 3years yet copyright can last 70 years plus the  life of the originator)
  • Cost of registered protection £60 in UK, €360 in EU, only 4000 registrations in UK. ACID holds over 350,000 designs for 1000 members and receives at least 50,000 per year
  • There is a disproportionate strength of the copyright lobby which extends on behalf of the entire record, film, computer, software, book publishers sectors  etc –  and there is nothing equivalent for design right. It is also true to say that whereas the copyright lobby benefits non-UK companies, most UK SME’s are not represented on design right issues.
  • Exemplary, restitutionary and aggravated damages to be improved
  • If SABIP is to continue then design issues need to be reflected in research documents
  • Kick start mediation as a real alternative to litigation
  • Support and acknowledgement of ACID’s latest ongoing campaign launched on World Intellectual Property Day 2010 to enlist and encourage major UK PLCs to have a communicated section within corporate social responsibility (CSR) on respect for intellectual property
  • Cabinet position for IP Minister –  or at least not a shared portfolio

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