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.

Image of Dids Macdonald

Dids Macdonald CEO ACID (Anti Copying In Design)



Following successful campaigning by ACID (Anti Copying In Design) and other key stakeholders pressing for the creation of the role of Intellectual Property Minister, Lord Triesman now appointed to the role, set out his store one year on from the Gowers IP recommendations. At an event organised by the Social Market Foundation and sponsored by the Alliance Against IP Theft. Lord Triesman confirmed that whilst the recommendations need to remain flexible to allow for current and future developments, the Gowers Recommendations will be constantly reviewed and adjusted to ensure that the balance of IP rights holders and users is maintained.

With the ever growing tensions and frustrations between rights-holders and consumers, he confirmed that Government cannot set hard and fast rules but will continue dialogue with businesses to seek solutions, urging all stakeholders to take part, looking at the diverse range of business models available to encourage consumer respect for intellectual property. In a bed rock reality check, UK IP stakeholders need not look to Government for immediate legislative reform simply because of the timescales involved however, he assured those present that, “We wouldn’t lose momentum in the UK and will would continue to seek national and international agreements on IP issues. Communication is key, raising awareness of IP where it fits in, how it works with consistent messages which are targeted at all appropriate platforms”.

Highlighting illegal activity and the consumer, Lord Triesman acknowledged (unsurprisingly!) that IP crime is not at the top of most people’s priorities, however the damage inflicted on organisations has a significant impact and Government cannot overlook demonstrable examples of links to organised crime which will become a priority issue for all enforcement agencies. However, solutions will be governed by consumer use and each type of IP theft must “not alienate consumer” he went on to say that “Changing the culture is difficult and requires consumer engagement”.

In summary, Lord Triesman confirmed his “absolute commitment and willingness to work with all stakeholders and, by facing the challenges”, he continued, “Together we can make a difference in the UK”. He then outlined the input he would like to encourage from stakeholders:

1) Developing a way of transferring the cultural messages about IP respect and the consequences of IP abuse – achieving understanding of the creative value of the mind

2) Via consultation – comprehensive responses that map the IP terrain but which are not anti competitive

3) Thinking more creatively about what is in the creative commons from the standpoint that more economic activity is generated by knowledge sharing whilst, at the same time maintaining and protecting business survival by ensuring the balance is right.

Wishing him good luck on his appointment to the position of Minister of Intellectual Property a canny Gordon Brown said, “Take a look at the value that IP has in the UK, it’s a leading edge economy double it!”


The Gowers Report, published in 2006, made 54 recommendations having attracted detailed and comprehensive submissions from over 600 stakeholders representative of the UK economy. Lord Triesman might well benefit from revisiting some of the tried and tested business models working effectively within the UK and not highlighted by Gowers in his recommendations, including ACID.

ACID will continue to lobby the Government, through Lord Triesman and garner support for the provision of exemplary damages which, under the existing legal structure are woefully inadequate and serve no purpose in dissuading those who seek criminal gain from what is still considered a “soft crime” by continuing to make vast profits from the immoral, anti-commercial and criminal activities which they continue to pursue. The organisation will continue to press for Aggravated Damages – The mental distress and moral outrage of IP theft must be seen to be quantified and demonstrated by the award of aggravated damages – often it takes a tremendous amount of conviction, courage and huge financial cost to take action causing ensuing mental distress. Restitutionary damages which fiscally balance the difference between the sale of a cheap copy and the amount lost by the originator/creator who has had to bear all the design, development or promotional costs. Exemplary Damages Punishing the wrong doer in a fair and just society rarely happens in IP infringement. IP crime is still not considered as “theft” nor is it promoted as “theft” clearly because of economic concerns and a lack of education and awareness by the consumer that they are doing anything wrong when they buy counterfeit, pirated or copied goods.

ACID would also urge Lord Triesman to really put his weight behind mediation as a real alternative to litigation and ensure that UK businesses look into their own back yard with declared corporate responsibility on IP issues and a public commitment to seek mediation sooner rather than later in the legal equation as recommended in Crown Prosecution Rules and encouraged by many UK judges.

Finally, IP having at last being given the importance of a ministerial status, ACID would urge Lord Triesman to ‘influence the influencers’ within Government.  Through his political network he has the opportunity to put the protection and encouragement of the nation’s intellectual property much higher up the political ladder.

Legal Symbol

Standard Terms of Trading via the Internet

ACID is encouraging all designers/manufacturers to pack their intellectual property (IP) tool kit with as much armoury as possible – and this includes keeping up to date with ACID’s portfolio of legal agreements – written by the organisation’s team of Accredited Lawyers and tailored to a variety if trading situations – web, pitching, licensing/royalty and standard terms and conditions of business, all with a particular focus on safeguarding intellectual property rights.

Although the agreements are available to all, ACID members benefit from the support of the ACID Legal Hotline 0845 2305742 to discuss their requirements. However, non-members still get a good deal and a standard re-usable legal document. The latest addition is ACID’s new Standard Terms of Trading via the Internet.

This invaluable Agreement covers all the elements required for protecting both the supplier and the customer – liability, warranties, data protection, and intellectual property. The agreement is re-usable and represents excellent value as a one-off investment. If users feel there are one or two clauses which do not apply to their circumstances – these may be amended or deleted as required and once legally checked with an ACID accredited lawyer (via the ACID legal hotline) or solicitor the agreement becomes bespoke.

Says Dids Macdonald, ‘We want ACID members to get the best from their business relationships. All our industry standard agreements include support tailored to raise awareness within all commercial frameworks that IP ownership is highlighted appropriately and legally clarified. Hundreds of our members have found these agreements effective and simple to use.

Mark Heritage

Mark Heritage is an assistant solicitor at ACID Accredited Law Firm Hammonds, which provides advice on the full range of intellectual property rights and their enforcement

The increasing centrality of the world-wide web to modern business clearly affords designers great opportunities to advertise their products and talent and expand their business. However, it also provides a ready route for copyists to disseminate infri ngements globally at the touch of a button, and too many designers have heard of (or been the victim of) online copying, which might range from plagiarism of marketing text, images or other materials, to unauthorised trade mark or brand use, or outright copying of product design.

So what can you do if you find infringements of your IP online? The standard approach is to target the individual or company known (or suspected) to be behind the posting of the infringing material online with a cease and desist letter. However, it can prove difficult to achieve results with this method, as often the infringer (who can be based abroad) has taken steps to obscure their identity, or simply does not respond, requiring further costly enforcement action. However, a more creative approach, involving the relevant website “host”, can yield results. By way of background, a domain name (i.e. and internet address in the format “www”….. .com, or, etc) is registered by a “registrant” with a “registrar”, who distributes domain names. Once the domain is registered, the website and online materials accessible through are then “hosted” (i.e. brought onto the world-wide web, so as to be accessible by internet users) by a “host” provider.

What is not commonly known is that there are frequently express provisions in the host’s standard terms with the registrant which entitle the host to suspend its hosting. These are essentially designed to protect the host from liability. However, usefully for designers, they often include circumstances in which material provided for hosting infringes one or more IP rights or is generally “unlawful” (although the precise terms vary from host to host).

If the host can be satisfied such material has been provided for hosting by the registrant, they may suspend hosting as a defensive step. If this is done, internet users trying to access the website at that domain should receive the familiar white screen and the message that the website is “unavailable”, or be taken to a holding page. In either case, online access to the website effectively becomes impossible and the “flow” of infringements into the public domain is halted.

Therefore, combining a cease and desist letter to the host with a cease and desist letter to the registrant can allow online infringements to be attacked from both the “top-down” and “bottom-up”, increasing the chances of early success.

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.

In the latest IPKat posting the new UKIPO search facility for Trademarks has been reviewed.

“One of the commoner gripes of UK trade mark lawyers is that UKIPO’s public database does not allow proper searching for identical or similar marks. Until now, you’ve been restricted to simple searches for the word elements of marks, and then only where the element starts with a specified string of characters or is an exact match. For anything more sophisticated than this, you’ve had to rely on subscription services (not cost-effective for occasional enquiries) or begging favours from fellow professionals. But UKIPO has recently unveiled (with an almost total lack of fanfare) an improved search facility. The options on offer include word and/or image searches and more flexibility with the position of search terms within trade marks. You can filter results by reference to Nice class, filing date and mark status. There are even helpful online guides provided in case it’s all a bit much. On the plus side, results are displayed clearly and quickly and the glitches mentioned above should be easy to fix. We should then have a significant upgrade of the trade mark professional’s toolbox, perhaps no match for subscription services (searching for lookalikes and phonetic similarities will remain awkward), but better than what we’ve been used to.”

To view the full article visit the IPKAT Blog Spot