The economic down turn has some nasty by-products including a potential increase in copying. Like street crime this increase is fuelled by a need to make money – fast. Copycats will seek a quick route to market by ripping off original design, rather than commissioning it, buyers will undercut suppliers and originators, unless they get their IP armoury in place, will be left vulnerable.
ACID ( Anti Copying in Design) has seen a marked increase in membership since the ‘R’ word became part of the UK’s vocabulary and a huge increase in the use of ACID’s Design Data Bank – a free service to members where they can safely store original designs should originator proof be required. ‘ People want to protect what they own more than ever’, says Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO, ‘in times of real prosperity there is not such a great desire to enforce strict contract terms in business, enough money can bring with it a laisse faire attitude towards litigation. However, as this down turn has shown, designers and manufacturers are prepared to stand by their original work and do what they can to protect it.’
ACID members, equipped with a sound IP strategy are pro-active when it comes to IP protection. ACID member, Smallbone & Co (Devizes) Ltd, has recently enforced their UK registered design and unregistered design rights in a kitchen island, part of the companies popular ‘Walnut and Silver’ kitchen. Smallbone of Devizes are highly influential market leaders and their anti-copying strategy is a great model for any manufacturer committed to innovative, original design. Like all ACID members, Smallbone do not allow others to take advantage of their novel designs and are prepared to take immediate action.
As the threat of copying increases, conflict will inevitably ensue. With conflict comes the threat of litigation – which apart from the expense can be very costly in sleepless nights. ‘This is why we encourage our members to be IP savvy and in times of dispute, seek mediation as a positive solution. There is no doubt mediation will become standard practice for dispute resolution in these worrying economic times’, adds Macdonald.
Mediation provides a highly cost effective and time effective route to solving allegations by bringing parties together with the support of a mediator to resolve alleged copying complaints, whilst avoiding legal intervention. So often mediation can result in realistic out of court settlements therefore avoiding potentially costly and often inflammatory legal disputes. As an alternative to litigation, mediation can also result in commercial agreements being brokered. Many designers 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. In this tough economic climate some of the UK’s excellent design talent could be sucked dry by high street copycats and many designer/manufacturers who may be experiencing financial difficulties just 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 and has the support to put effective IP armoury in place in order to fight plagiarists while having access to the multiple benefits of mediation.