asda ACID members Chris Hall and Diana Gonsalves, trading as Gonsalves and Hall, are designers of clothing and their designs are sold in various boutiques around the country. Part of their activities involves designing patterns and motifs which are applied to clothing. Two of their designs are a necklace print and bow print (which themselves are protected by copyright as artistic work) and each is applied to a t-shirt.

 

It came as a great shock to Gonsalves and Hall when they discovered earlier this year that Asda were selling a t-shirt through their George collection in the stores which had a print applied to it which appeared to incorporate a substantial part of both the necklace and bow print. They contacted ACID accredited law firm McDaniel and Co who wrote to Asda claiming copyright infringement. Subsequently, Asda agreed (without admission of liability) to remove the item from all outlets and pay a goodwill sum in respect of the alleged infringement as well as legal costs.

 

An interesting point was that Asda refused to give a formal undertaking in respect of the item. It was outlined that it is company policy not to give undertakings and they will only do so if compelled by a Court. The reason given was that an undertaking is very difficult to police when Asda have over 300 stores nationwide.

 

Andrew Lee of McDaniel and Co comments: “The fashion market is transient in nature in that designs come and go very quickly. Often big fashion labels do not pursue copiers as by the time any action is taken the item is out of season and forgotten. However, for smaller businesses such as Gonsalves and Hall whose life blood is creating new designs and protecting them, it was essential to take action”

 

 

L52008 saw the busiest ever 100% ACID exhibition stand, with enquiries from both exhibitors and visitors seeking help and advice on practical design and brand protection issues. Jo Crouch, of ACID Accredited Law firm DMH Stallard,  fielded queries at ACID’s one to one IP clinics and also skilfully handled a potentially explosive situation between two exhibitors. One standholder complained that his latest garden furniture design had been copied and was on display on another stand. Overnight, evidence of design ownership (in the form of signed and dated detailed design drawings) was obtained enabling Jo to be satisfied that rights ownership belonged to the complainant.

 

An approach was made to the alleged copyist and resulted in the immediate removal of the product from the other stand for the rest of the show. The most positive aspect of the protocol, apart from achieving a result with no legal expense, was that the two parties agreed to meet the following week to discuss a possible licence royalty agreement. Following this mediation (to date there have been over 2000 over the last ten years at ACID accredited exhibitions) Dids Macdonald said “This is a classic example of how grass roots mediation is such a powerful tool for exhibition organisers to demonstrate their support of original design. After all, exhibitors pay thousands to exhibit and need assurances that with ACID’s help, alleged copying complaints can be dealt with swiftly and effectively with specialist IP resources.”

 

On a less positive note, yet again, sadly, the ACID stand was inundated with complaints about the lack of ‘no photography’ policing at the show – ACID intends, on behalf of ACID members – and all other exhibitors – to work with Exhibition Organiser Reed to address this prior to 100% Design 2009.

ADAM AARONSON AT DECOREXA

ACID celebrated its 10th year supporting exhibitors at Decorex International and this year witnessed the least amount of copying complaints. At the same time there was a significant increase in a raised awareness about intellectual issues and a full house at the ACID one to one IP clinics.

 

Adam Aaronson (above) , a former director and current exhibitor at Decorex said, “Original design is the lifeblood of our company. If that is eroded by copying, this completely devalues the craftsmanship and skill which goes into each and every piece of glassware that is hand blown. Decorex consistently sends a clear message out to all visitors of a zero tolerance to design theft and it is reassuring that copying statistics have been so significantly reduced”.

 Chinasymbol3Recent events send a warning signal to UK businesses

Given the dramatic economic events in recent days, businesses can be forgiven for not having Chinese law at the forefront of their minds.  China may seem a million miles away  (only 5,071 to be exact) but recent changes in Chinese law are likely to have a direct impact on UK businesses in the coming months.

Earlier this year a new contract labour law came into force in China that placed a number of onerous new legal obligations on Chinese businesses in respect of their employees.  The combination of this and several other economic and political factors (including the rising Yuan, increased inflation and the global economic downturn) has been too much for many smaller and medium size businesses there.  They simply cannot survive financially and are rapidly going out of business.  The Federation of Hong Kong Industries estimates that around 10,000 factories in the Pearl River Delta region of the country will scale back operations or close down altogether by the end of this year. 

This is bad news for those UK businesses that currently source all or some of their manufacturing components or other goods cheaply from Chinese suppliers.  In the coming months, those suppliers are likely to substantially increase their prices, become unreliable at supplying goods on time or, worse still, go out of business altogether.  UK businesses are likely to see a knock on effect on their profits.  Perhaps of greater concern is that many businesses will no longer be able to manufacture and/or supply goods at all resulting in breaches of contractual obligations and ultimately loss of customers.

Businesses should act now to manage and minimise the commercial impact of these developments.  Initially, businesses should work with their existing supplier to identify and, where possible, resolve anticipated supply problems.  Businesses with two or more suppliers in China may consider beginning to source from just one supplier that is able to demonstrate its financial stability.  Another option is to find a completely new and reliable supplier in China.  Where a business is wholly dependent on the existence of one supplier and switching supplier is not, for any reason, a realistic option is equity investment in that supplier a possibility?

Businesses should give careful consideration to which of these options give the best commercial outcome.  They should also take legal advice on the contractual issues.  It is particularly important to ensure that a contract termination does not amount to a breach of that contract (for which damages would be payable) and to ensure that any new or revised contracts are as commercially robust as possible and ensure future continuity and quality of supply.

 

Trade Marks – changes to the system

  

If you are applying for a new trade mark there are changes which will simplify the application process. Currently, if someone opposes your application for a trade mark there is a 3 month period in which they can do so. This has now been reduced to two months which should speed up the process. Any opposing party, however, can extend this to 3 months without having to pay a fee. What is known as the “cooling off” period once an opposition has begun is now down from 12 months to 9 months, however, this can be extended to 18 months under certain conditions. To find out more about these and other changes click the links below.

 

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/press-release-20080708-guidance.pdf 

 

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/em/uksiem_20081797_en.pdf

 

Trade marks can be signs, symbols, logos, words, sounds or music that distinguish your products and services from those of your competitors. So as well as being a strong marketing differentiator, a registered trade mark will give you added protection in preference to unregistered trade marks. Registration of intellectual property rights is also an essential ingredient in auditing the intellectual capital in your business for sale, acquisition, merger or brand expansion through licensing or franchising. Being in possession of a registered trade mark will certainly provide better brand protection and a tangible ownership of the name under which you have built a brand.

 

For more information about registration of a UK or Community Trade Mark ACID members can call the ACID Legal Hotline 0845 230 5742 to speak to an ACID Accredited lawyer. For further information on trade marks visit the relevant section on the UKIPO website.

 

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/t-pdfword.htm

 

 

 Restaurant 1ALast weekend saw the spectacular launch of the UK’s first Restaurant and Bar Awards dedicated exclusively to design. To celebrate the occasion, Dominic Harris of Cinimod Studio was commissioned to create an outdoor interactive lighting installation. Conceived as an exploded blank canvas, the huge “exploded globe of light” was suspended from the trees over London’s famed Hoxton Square and was interactively controlled by the guests.

The artwork was inspired by the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards’ belief that “design excellence is up to you”, and using cutting edge technologies, the innovative lighting installation was brought to life by the collaborative interaction of the guests using special punch cards to choreograph their own colour animations. These cards were ‘scanned’ at a freestanding plinth located in one corner of the square, from where their colours were uploaded to the main globe to form the overall animated lighting display. The artwork acted as a beacon of good design, key to the underlying message of the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards.The launch event was attended by some of the world’s top influential designers and industry press and the Awards will be judged by leading and influential figures within the world of design.  These ACID members, Simon Pengelly, Pengelly Design and Martin Blum, Design Partner, Black & Blum with a final awards ceremony in April 2009.   When asked ‘ What is design excellence?’ Simon Pengelly responded ‘The right amount of compromise’.  Martin Blum’s reply to the same question, ‘ The ability to combine beauty within function and keeping the solution minimal.’  For further information on how to enter the awards visit  

  www.restaurantandbardesignawards.com

Below left to right, members of the judging panel and also ACID members - Simon Pengelly, Dan Black & Martin Blum  simon-pengelly               ban-blackA                                martin-blumA

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