Baroness at Lectern 



This month ACID celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Design Council with keynote speaker Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Intellectual Property and Quality. Baroness Morgan thanked ACID, on behalf of the UK Government, for the organisation’s significant contribution in fighting design theft and preparing designers and manufacturers, pan-industry, to safeguard their commercial future.  Click here to view Baroness Morgan’s speech from the event which also combined the launch of ACID’s national campaign initiative, Mediate to Resolve.

 World Intellectual Property Day is an annual event celebrated by WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation. 

In his message for World IP Day (April 26), WIPO Director General Kamil Idris pays tribute to the innovators and creators whose works make life richer; and calls for respect for the IP rights which they have earned. For details of their events click here.

Mediate Logo

‘MEDIATE TO RESOLVE’ is a National mediation scheme for designer/manufacturers, pan industry, offering mediation as a real alternative to litigation in intellectual property disputes.

Endorsed and supported by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, Minister for Intellectual Property, ACID’s Mediate to Resolve service provides a highly cost effective and time effective route to dispute resolution bringing parties together with the support of a mediator to resolve alleged copying complaints whilst avoiding legal intervention.  Based on the organisation’s extensive experience handling mediation (ACID has handled over 2000 grass roots mediations at exhibitions with less than 30% requiring further legal intervention) ACID plans to make mediation both accessible and affordable to both ACID members and non-members. The Mediate to Resolve panel, chaired by former Appeals Court Judge Sir Jonathan Parker, provides both ACID members and non members with a countrywide network of leading accredited mediators, skilled in dispute resolution within the design industry.  ‘As a Judge, I have seen all too often how parties to a dispute can become locked into litigation when mediation at an early stage might well have resulted in a satisfactory compromise.   Having regard to the inevitable cost, time and stress of litigation – to say nothing of the risk of losing the case - mediation must always be worth a try which is why I am so committed to the concept of mediation.’  Many organisations are not familiar with the stages of the mediation process and ACID is frequently asked, “What is mediation and how does it work?” Mediation is a confidential meeting between two parties who are in dispute but who retain control over the outcome. They are guided through the process by a skilled mediator who will use his or her expertise to restore or rebuild a harmonious relationship but has no authority to impose an outcome.  These days the demands on businesses to succeed and grow are severely hampered by the increase of intellectual property infringement. Taking action against those who seek the fast track to market through IP theft places huge fiscal and time restrictions on the day-to-day running of organisations. ACID has spent the last decade encouraging parties in disputes to seek mediation sooner rather than later and Government is now sending a strong message to judges to look more favourably on disputing companies who seek mediation prior to any Court applications.  Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO, has been an outspoken advocator of mediation since the organisation’s launch in 1998. ‘So often mediation can result in realistic out of court settlements therefore avoiding potentially costly and often inflammatory legal disputes. Mediation, as an alternative to litigation can also result in commercial agreements being brokered. I know of many designers who have walked away from mediation with a royalty or licence agreement in their pocket rather than a hefty legal bill.’   ACID’s prime objective is to help designers appreciate and protect their IP equity. Much of the UK’s excellent design talent is being sucked dry by high street copycats and many designer/manufacturers can’t afford to fight their case through the courts when their products are ripped off.  ACID’s objective is to ensure that every designer in the UK understands the value of their IP rights, the multiple benefits of mediation and has access to our Mediate to Resolve service.

Lynda Relph-Knight

 Linda Relph-Knight, Editor, Design Week

ACID realised early on that it was important to use every available platform to communicate its message across the different industry sectors it represents and in order to do this we decided that relationships needed to be established with leading publications who would publicly support the organisation’s aims and objectives. Linda Relph Knight was the first editor to put the full weight of Design Week behind ACID. It is hard to believe that ACID is only ten years old, such has been its impact in combating copyright theft.  Its ceaseless campaigns to this end have heightened awareness across the business community, particularly within retail, to an extent that we see far fewer rip-off designs on the market. By appealing to the better nature of top retailers, for example, it has helped to set a standard on the high street.  Where copyright infringements do occur, designers at the smaller end of the scale are better informed, thanks, in part, to ACID’s efforts, and more confident about taking on the big company. Most importantly, it has advised younger designers, so often preyed upon in the past by unscrupulous visitors to graduate shows in search of cashing in on their ideas. By raising their awareness of the value of their designs and their legal rights regarding them, it has helped to change the perceptions of a whole generation of designers – and boost their self-confidence in the process. This is particularly the case with 3D design, when designers set up as sole traders batch-produce their wares as a way of kick-starting their careers and establishing their brand. In the past, even reputable retailers have been guilty of ‘borrowing’ the ideas for mass-production as own-brand lines. But the same scenario can occur with graphics, printed textiles and digital design.  The importance of protecting intellectual property rights can’t be overstressed. Not only can sole-traders protect their ideas from pillaging bigger businesses, designers working more commercially can earn extra cash by controlling the assignment of copyright to the client and have a say in how their designs are used – a vital part of building and protecting your reputation. If, for example, the contract states that the use of a particular image is limited to packaging for a project, the client can’t use it in, say, advertising or other promotions unless the designer agrees to extend the assignment, invariably for an additional fee. Of course, it isn’t always easy to say no to a client. A designer has to be brave to do that. But an awareness of your rights gives you a head start in negotiating favourable terms. And it cuts both ways.  Having a clear understanding from the outset, expressed in the contract, is likely to foster mutual respect between client and designer and this inevitably leads to better work being produced. There are instances where reason doesn’t prevail and litigation ensues. This is rarely desirable, for though ACID interventions have shown that David can still beat Goliath in court if right is on his side, the time and cost involved in legal action isn’t always fully compensated for in the settlement. The inclination of creative people is to create new things and courtroom experiences can be stifling. It is far better to try to mediate with the offending party than to take the case to its conclusion and ACID has had considerable success with this.  As global markets continue to grow, intellectual property rights are set to become an even bigger issue. Being aware of them is half the battle for designers, but having a champion like ACID is set to ease the pain! 


ACID member Beverley Williams recently made an application to register two trademarks.  She was delighted when she received a letter from the European Institute for Economy and Commerce asking her for a registration fee of £479.75 for each trademark.  She immediately e-mailed Niall Head-Rapson of ACID Accredited Law Firm, McDaniel & Co, to let him know that she had been granted her trademarks. Niall unfortunately had to explain to Beverley that this was a well-known ploy by EIEC, causing confusion with the official registration service.  ACID Members should be vigilant if they receive this kind of correspondence.  ACID is aware that it is relatively easy to access information on recent trademark submissions and some companies appear to be deliberately causing confusion with the official registration service. They frequently receive payment from registrants who are unaware that they are being misled.

Niall Head-Rapson commented, “Clients that I have been involved with have regularly received such correspondence.  In one case they paid out over €1,200 without realising it to be a fraud”.    If ACID members receive any confusing paperwork or e-mails they can call the ACID Legal Hotline on 0845 230 5742 for legal advice. Both members and non-members can receive general advice from the membership team on 0845 644 3617.


ACID would like to congratulate ACID members Dominic and Frances Bromley of Scabetti on their success in reaching the shortlist for the Grand Designs Best Lighting Product 2008 with their Shoal284. Frances commen’We were pretty taken aback with the short-listing, it’s so flattering to be listed amongst the best in the industry.’

This success comes hard on the heels of their award winning installation Shoal1672 at last year’s 100%Futures at Earl’s Court in London and the subsequent installation of Shoal at Rick Stein’s Padstow Restaurant in January. Frances commented ‘Since Shoal’s release last September we’ve been overwhelmed by the international response to our work. Meeting Jill Stein at 100%Design and then installing a bespoke Shoal1012 at the Seafood Restaurant was really exciting for us. We’ve been so busy since, we’ve not even had a chance to take them up on their offer to dine!’

Scabetti has been a member of ACID since Dominic started the business in 1999. His collection has grown from the first candlestick and amoeba dish to a strong collection of sculptural works. ‘Having the clout of such a strong organisation as ACID protecting our design work has always been really important to me’ quotes Dominic. Based in Leek, Staffordshire, Dominic, now working with his wife Frances, (an experienced product designer), are concentrating on pieces made from bone china and the effect of light on this fine translucent material. Their work illustrates their focus on the sculptural form and making sculpture more accessible. Their collection can be seen at

Sarah Birkbeck 


Sarah Birkbeck of DMH Stallard reviews the latest case between Victor Andrew Wilson -v- (1) Yahoo! UK Ltd and (2) Overture Services Ltd [2008] EWHC 361 (Ch) The case provides some helpful clarification on the limits of the rights of a trademark owner and whether the use of keywords in online search engines for sponsored search results amounts to trademark infringement. Mr Wilson (W), owner of the “MR SPICY” Community trade mark, complained that sponsored links to a well-known supermarket and a price comparison website appeared whenever a user typed “MR SPICY” into Yahoo!’s UK search engine. W argued that by doing this Yahoo! had infringed his trademark rights. Yahoo! argued that the sponsored links appeared due to matching technology which responded to the input of the words “MR SPICY”. The advertisers whose sponsored links appeared had not purchased “MR SPICY” as a keyword but had bid on related keywords, such as “spicy”.  Yahoo admitted that entering the term “MR SPICY” could trigger adverts for companies that had sponsored the word “spicy” but argued that they had not “used” W’s trademark and that any use by Yahoo! did not amount to “trademark use”. In his decision Mr Justice Morgan held that: 1.     The trade mark was not used by anyone other than the user who entered the words “MR SPICY” into the search engine;2.     Yahoo! had only responded to the use by the user and this did not amount to use of the trade mark by Yahoo!. It was held this would even be the case if advertisers had bid on the keyword “MR SPICY”;3.     Even if there was use by Yahoo!, it was use of the English word “spicy” and not “MR SPICY”; and 4.     Even if there was use of “MR SPICY” by Yahoo!, such use was not use “as a trade mark” following the ECJ case in Arsenal Football Club plc v Reed whereby the proprietor of [a trademark] cannot prohibit the use of a sign identical to his trade mark if that use does not affect his own interests as owner of the trademark.  Summary judgement was given in favour of Yahoo! and Andrew Wilson did not appeal the decision.


ACID’s CEO, Dids Macdonald was invited on BBC1 Crime Watch, Monday 31st March to comment on what designers can do to protect their designs.

BBC Crimewatch 

Safeguarding your designs

Please see ACID’s Crimewatch special information sheet and advice on protecting yourself and your designs from copyists.

For further advice please contact ACID. Details below.


IP Crime is a theft