ACID members Romo Limited, designers of original and exclusive soft furnishings decided to take enforcement action against Linda Barker and associated company Really Linda Barker Limited after they discovered what they considered to be their original Simonii cushion designs being marketed under the Linda Barker banner. At first, despite letters from ACID Accredited Law Firm Hammonds, there was no response, but undertakings were later received from Linda Barker and the company confirming that the relevant images had been removed from the website and would not be reproduced in future catalogues. They also agreed to immediately withdraw all articles with the “Carnation Cushions” design from sale, remove all references to them from their marketing and advertising campaigns and not to infringe Romo’s copyright in its Simonii design or any of its other IP rights. The Linda Barker call centre was also instructed not to take orders for Carnation Cushion products in future. Read the rest of this entry »


Over the last two years ACID has spearheaded a campaign together with other organisations to raise awareness about the business practices of FairGuide and warn all exhibitors about signing an agreement to participate in what purports to the a global directory of exhibitions and exhibitors giving the false impression that this was endorsed by a particular exhibition organiser/trade fair at which the recipient had taken part. In a recent communication from the Austrian Trade organisation they reported that at a hearing in proceedings for an injunction on 13 February 2007, Construct Data Verlag AG has undertaken to cease sending communications and from insisting on any payment claims within the EU, EEA and Switzerland where any signatory has been misled and signed a FairGuide agreement in error. Unfortunately Construct Data is not obliged to cancel the contracts formally, but has to stop insisting on paying”.

Please find attached a suggested template letter to be sent out immediately if Construct Data Verlag or any collection agencies make demands for payment on those who may have inadvertently signed an agreement with FairGuide thinking that this was a free entry or a free update of an existing entry.

At an “Inside Track Briefing Lunch” organised by managing partner Andrew Clay of ACID’s Accredited law firm Hammonds, Andrew Gowers was the guest speaker.

Attended by a small group of diverse stakeholders Andrew Gowers confirmed that both he and Government were surprised at the volume of responses from over 600 organisations to the call by the review body for submissions on intellectual property in the UK

Photographed with Andrew Gowers is Dids Macdonald, Chief Executive of ACID (she had won the right to name one of three ducks signed by Andrew Gowers) who seized the opportunity to remind him of her claim to the name “MACDONALD DUCK” confirming the Duck’s intention that “ACID will keep design right afloat”. During the lunch Dids Macdonald explained to the group that for many thousands of SME’s it was still virtually impossible to a) take action against copying and b) seek help with enforcement. She suggested that design right should be added to the recommendation and implementation of Section 107A that copyright and trademarks infringement can be enforced by Trading Standards, one of Gowers’ key recommendations. Andrew Gowers confirmed that the route forward to progress this request may lie with the soon to be created Strategic Advisory Body for Intellectual Property (SABIP).

Dids Macdonald is determined to secure a seat at SABIP’s table on behalf of UK designers relying on design right to pursue this and other lobbying objectives.

Following recommendations in the recent Gowers Report commissioned by the Chancellor, the Patent Office will now become known as the UK Intellectual Property Office to reflect the breadth of functions the office has and to dispel confusion. Ron Marchant, Chief Executive of the Patent Office said, “Our new name is also in line with those of many similar agencies abroad, making it easier for people wherever they are, to identify intellectual property offices. The findings of the Gowers Review and our own programme, “A Patent office for the 21st Century”, come together very well to meet the need for us to be and be seen to be an organization with a clear set of responsibilities. These are:

Raising awareness and understanding of intellectual property rights, acting to improve the way rights are enforced and developing the framework of intellectual property laws and agreements to fit the needs of modern UK businesses competing with those abroad.”

Dids Macdonald, commenting on the new name, said, “I welcome the change, at least it clarifies what ACID has been championing for many years that intellectual property encompasses all IP rights including copyright, trade marks and design right and the Patent Office is not the exclusive domain of patents. However, the fact still remains that the Gowers report still focused mainly on patents and, at a meeting with Dr Vince Cable MP, Shadow Chancellor for the Liberal Democrats, he made a commitment to pursue a platform for ACID at the All Party IP Group to ensure that more stakeholders within Government are aware of a) the legitimacy of design right as a valid IP right and b) the lobbying concerns of design right holders.

What lessons can be learnt?

Following a busy exhibition with, sadly, its usual but increasing share of copying, there are still plenty of positive aspects to focus on, not least as highlighted in the successful ACID seminar offering advice on the tips and traps of licensing intellectual property.

Case Study. A Spring Fair exhibitor and licensee of a set of animal original artwork visited the ACID stand to report a copying complaint and asked us to use the ACID Exhibition Protocol to communicate the complaint to an alleged infringer who was selling what he believed were copies of his products. (Spring Fair is an ACID Accredited Exhibition organiser and, as such, has the benefit of the Protocol for use by all exhibitors as a proactive copying complaint handling framework). The artist was said to have granted the exhibitor a licence to use the artwork but the complainant also thought they owned the intellectual property rights in the 3D ceramics produced from the artwork. In order to ascertain what intellectual property rights were licensed to the complainant exhibitor, whether the complainant had an exclusive or non-exclusive licence and what rights the complainant had to take action against infringers Patricia Jones from Hammonds, ACID’s Accredited Lawyer on the stand that day, had to see the licence agreement. The case was further complicated because the owner of the animal artwork was on the west coast of America so as it was 10 am in the morning, there would be an 8 hour delay before being able to contact the owner. The next day a copy of the licence agreement had been faxed to the complainant who asked ACID’s advice. As a result of ACID being able to clarify the position under the licence the complaint was pursued and the alleged infringer notified at the Fair and put on notice. This highlights a key piece of information to all licensees before attending an exhibition:

ACID’s advice “Always keep a copy of your licence agreement with you so that if you are unlucky enough to discover what you believe to be copies of your products, immediate action can be taken from a position of strength without any delay in having to first clarify a) the rights licensed and b) confirm the ability of a licensee to take action against a potential infringer”.

On April 1, 2007, the new “Museum Plagiarius” in the city of Solingen (near Cologne), will open as a permanent exhibition. The world-wide unique collection will show more than 250 originals and plagiarisms of all kinds of industries in direct comparison to visualise the problem and sensitise the public.

The aim of “Plagiarius” is to inform all parties affected – designers and enterprises as well as politicians, legislators and not least consumers – by the means of public relations, counsel, world-wide exhibitions, lectures – and now in the museum – about the extent, damages and dangers incurred by fakes and plagiarisms. Workshops and seminars on how to fight brand and product piracy will take place in the conference room of the museum on a regular basis.

The Aktion Plagiarius awards were initiated back in 1977 by Prof. Rido Busse. The negative award “Plagiarius” serves to inform the public about the problem of fakes and plagiarisms and the negative impacts they have on not only the economy as a whole, but also on small companies and designers. Action Plagiarius awards the negative award at the annual “Ambiente” trade fair during a press conference. The award is given to those companies that the jury has found guilty of making “the most flagrant” design imitations. As his key figure, Busse chose a gnome, which he painted black with a gold nose to signify the “illicit earnings from product imitation”.

On March 26, 2007 (11:00 a.m.) a press conference (including the destruction of plagiarisms by a road roller) will be held (in German) and in the evening (6 p.m.) there will be a celebration for the inauguration of the museum with friends and sponsors.

Museum Plagiarius
Bahnhoffstrasse 11
D-42651 Solingen

Visit the Plagiarius Website


A must read for all ACID members! Frederick Mostert is the Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for ACID member, The Richemont Group which includes Montblanc, Chloe, Cartier, Dunhill and other luxury brands. In his introduction Frederick says, “I have written this practical guide to demystify intellectual property. My goal is to reveal the secrets and explain the complexities and formalities of the law, steering clear of legal jargon”. Dids Macdonald said, “I wish more lawyers would follow suit . This is one of the few intellectual property books which is simple to follow, easy to read and has some great tips and advice on how to protect, maximise and exploit your IP”.

Endorsing the book, Nelson Mandela said, “This book democratises intellectual property and makes it accessible for all to use and understand” and Fashion Designer Stella McCartney says, “Designers need to know how best to protect their creations. This book tells you how”