ACID has had an amazing, high profile year! As well as continuing the fight to improve designers IP rights, our membership has increased month by month, we have received masses of national TV, radio and press coverage, and launched exciting new IP awareness campaigns and initiatives. Working on the premise that ‘he who shouts loudest’, ACID’s voice against design theft now resonates within Government and legislative quarters as well as the design industry as a whole – and thanks to our members, partners and friends of ACID – the battle goes on! The good news is that heightened global awareness regarding IP issues has made designers and manufacturers even more IP savvy. Hundreds of our members are including design and brand protection as part of their business strategy and shamelessly using the ACID logo as their voice of deterrence.
ACID has had a number of priorities during the course of the year and I would like to take this opportunity to name just a few: The recent Gowers Review on Intellectual Property has resulted in the establishment of a Strategic Advisory Board on Intellectual Property to advise Government and the UK Intellectual Property Office. The SABIP will be announcing the Chairperson and the 9 Board members in Spring 2008. ACID will be keen to see what the new Chairperson will consider his/her priorities and will review the Boards progress in this column in 12 month’s time! As a result of ACID’s (and others) submissions to the Gowers consultative process, the role of a dedicated Minister for Intellectual Property has been created and Lord Triesman was appointed to the task of overseeing the UK’s Intellectual Property. Andrew Gowers commended ACID as a private sector initiative which “stood out as a good example of ways in which public and industry awareness about IP can be increased”. However, not forthcoming was a recommendation to provide funding to broaden out the ACID initiative to a wider audience. ACID still seeks that backing!
One of our key priorities in 2007, through ACID Lobby and on behalf of membership, was the submission of a comprehensive response to a consultation document on damages requested by the Ministry of Justice. ACID believes that punishing the wrong doer in a fair and just society means introducing a scale of damages which act as a sufficient deterrent against copying. In short, we believe that exemplary damages should be increased as many of us know, apart from the financial loss, damages rarely compensate for the mental distress and moral outrage of IP theft! ACID Lobby will only ever be effective if individual members and organisations support its objectives. Please express your support at grass roots by raising these issues with your own MP! And, if required, please don’t hesitate to call us for a draft letter.
During 2007, at the request of Trading Standards, ACID launched a training module to introduce their officers to design right issues. By instigating this programme, the subject of design right infringement is now included in the Trading Standards Officers’s examination resulting in an improved understanding of IP issues as well as an awareness of all industry groups such as ACID.
2007 has seen our affiliate partnerships grow to 18, the latest to join are the Middle East Association of Interior Designers (APID) and the Furniture Ombudsman and our media supporters continue to come on board, the newest additions being idFX and FX. In January of 2007 I became a CEDR Accredited Mediator which has helped ACID to foster mediation as a real alternative to litigation.
In October, ACID held its first Mediation Theatre demonstrating the positive dynamics of mediation hosted by the UK Intellectual Property Office and co-hosted with CED (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution). During the last 10 years, ACID has clocked up a staggering 1800 grass roots mediations at exhibitions. Less than 30% of these have required further legal intervention. Often ACID’s mediations have resulted in commercial agreements being struck between the two parties such as a licence agreement or a royalty agreement.
10 years ago, as a result of my own company facing collapse through copying, ACID was launched from a soap box at Decorex with a few faithful followers who started the first round table action group against copying very much as “Davids” against “Goliaths”. Today ACID is a significant organisation representing IP owners from multi national brands to individual designer makers, all share one objective to capitalise on their creativity and innovation without running the risks of IP theft. Whilst we have a significant track record of nearly 230 settlements against infringers, in 2008 and beyond ACID will continue to expose design theft and encourage innovative collaboration and the expansion of brands through licensing, franchising and the support of IP as a positive force.
I would like to thank all our ACID members for their continued support, to our media supporters for providing a platform to “Name and Educate”, to our Affiliate Partners whose organisations support, encourage and, therefore broaden our aims and objectives to difference industry sectors, to our ACID Accredited Law Firms who have provided invaluable practical help, support and guidance and to the many other Friends of ACID whose continued enthusiasm for our work is sustaining.
And last but not least, a date for your diary! ACID will be ten years old on 9th April 2008.Celebrations will be at the Design Council between 5.30 and 8.00 more news later.
With all good wishes for a very Happy New Year and a healthy and prosperous 2008.