President Sarkozy is leading a crack down against downloading music and films from the internet without paying for them, with a ground breaking new enforcement body. Those who persistently continue to illegally download will be cautioned. If they ignore two further warnings they face the possibility that their internet accounts will be suspended or terminated.

In a deal struck with the music industry an agreement has been made to make individual downloads of archive French material available on all types of players and will drop digital rights protection. Equally the French film industry has responded with an offer to release DVDs more quickly following a film’s release. Groups representing consumers have reacted negatively to the proposal claiming that it will be a threat to civil liberties. In order for the new enforcement body to be fully up and running, the French Government will have to introduce new laws which could come as soon as Spring 2008.

ACID comment: The French already lead on several IP initiatives – to date we have seen a move within the fashion industry to ban journalists from fashion shows, thus allowing the catwalk creations to have a steal on the lookalikes. Under the French IP Genesis scheme to help companies evaluate their IP worth, the French Government provides free help and expert advice from IP experts which identifies the rights they should be protecting.

ACID has led the way in the UK with free Intellectual Property Strategy Reviews, (IPSR’s) available to ACID’s corporate members and in 2008 ACID will seek Government sponsorship to broaden out their service to non-members. The scheme was started several years ago and many companies have benefited. One such audit took place at ACID members Duresta. Following the IP Audit MD Clive Kenyon Brown said, ‘I would thoroughly recommend an ACID IP Strategy Review for all design led businesses, which should include all senior members of staff, so that they may fully understand the importance and value of the intellectual property within their business’.

IP Health Check Guidelines:

  • Knowledge of IP Law

Understand and identify basics of IP law that affect you and your company’s products/services. For example, review your existing trade mark portfolio and identify priority territories. Decide which IPRs need to be registered and allocate the appropriate budgets, don’t forget that this is tax deductible. Identify company secrets and confidential processes and ensure they are secured and managed. Create a protocol for the management of company ‘know how’.In house – are your design/creation processes secure? Ensure that your design/creation process includes the necessary safeguards and that all marketing material communicates an anti copying message. Always sign and date work and, wherever practical and possible, lodge with a 3rd party or ensure you have a secure in house document management system. Brand protection – consider incorporating technology which will allow you to trace origin and authenticity in packaging. Do you have clauses in standard terms and conditions of employment with your designers which flag up the ownership of IP? If you employ freelance designers, always have a standard agreement in place to clarify IP ownership. Network with all those within the supply chain to inform you of any possible lookalike productsMake sure your staff fully understand the value of your original products and are aware of the investment, research and development which goes into your product range/service. Ensure your standard terms and conditions of business and supply contain IPR clauses clearly clarifying ownership and responsibilitiesCarry out regular due diligence checks on suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and other partners and have a system in place to monitor production standards including overrun audits

  • Secure supply chain
  • Establish relationships with IP experts

By establishing relationships with IP experts who know your business they can help you create an effective IPR strategy underpinned by the appropriate registrations relevant to your business. Having your IP house in order will act as an invaluable USP and key driver in attracting investment or in mergers, acquisitions and investments. Having a proactive approach will help you prepare for any unpexpected challenges before they occur.

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