Greetings Card and stationery designers and Publishers Caroline Gardner recently discovered that online retailer and wholesaler Bombay Duck were using one of their designs without permission – a union flag gift wrap – as a back drop in promotional material. Despite denying that the incorporation of the design constituted an act of copyright infringement, they agreed to enter undertakings not to infringe in future, removed the offending design from their web site and Christmas catalogue, and paid £3000 in respect of costs and damages. ACID Accredited lawyers McDaniel & Co acted on behalf of Caroline Gardner. 

Caroline Gardner Publishing, one of ACID’s long-term members has always had a robust policy regarding copyright protection. Caroline is one of the most respected independent greeting card and stationery designers in the UK, having trained initially as a painter, then moved on to card design following a successful Tokyo gallery commission.  

Following the settlement, Angus Gardner said, “Originality and innovation are the key components which have made the Caroline Gardner brand so instantly recognizable and sought after. I would argue that original design is one of the last true ‘engine-rooms’ of British industry where we still lead the world, and anything which undermines or compromises this is immoral.  As a policy we always send our new designs to the ACID Design Data Bank to add ballast to the design audit trail and will always pursue any unauthorized use of our intellectual property. This particular design was very important for us  to protect, because it has been licensed to Blueprint Collections who are currently putting together a large range of gift stationery based on the design, which will be ready for the Autumn”. 

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO said, “Increasingly, because greetings card designers are constantly innovating, we are seeing a big surge in the use of the ACID Design Data Bank with many new applications from within this sector. This now holds over 300,000 copies of members’ designs. Combined strength within the sector, supported by the ACID brand, means a stronger voice against copying”.

Angie Lewin Design

Following a successful legal challenge over a look alike fabric by ACID member Angie Lewin, leading Swedish retailer Ahlens have paid nearly £10,000 in costs and damages and confirmed that Ahlens look alike “Ella” print will be taken off the store’s shelves (both on and offline). All further sales of this fabric have been stopped. 

Andrew Lee of ACID Accredited law firm McDaniel & Co comments: “Clearly, the Ella print whilst not being an exact copy, reproduced a substantial part of the Speypath 1 print. Although the infringement did not take place in the UK, those who have artistic copyright benefit from the fact that copyright can be enforced in practically every country in the world because of the Berne Convention.

Alleged Copy

Alleged Copy

In addition, Sweden, being members of the EU, are bound to ensure their national law complies with the 2001 EC Copyright Directive which requires protection for authors from the taking of their works in whole or in part.”

Angie Lewin is a well known printmaker who creates her work using techniques such as linocut/wood engraving, relief printing and lithography. In late 2008 Angie discovered that one her limited edition prints known as the “Speypath 1″ appeared to have been copied and was being offered for sale in Sweden by leading retailer Ahlens. Lewins, commenting on the successful settlement said, “My work is heavily inspired by the natural environment and designs created by me are instantly recognisable to those in the industry and therefore any look-alikes are also easily identifiable. I will always take proactive steps to protect my work, that’s why I joined ACID.”  

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO said, “One of the little known facts is that designers should not assume they cannot enforce their rights abroad or that it is too difficult. This is an excellent example where, with the right specialist IP advice, David can take on the Goliaths and win!”

IP settlement following “Cease & Desist” letter   

Award winning ACID (Anti Copying in Design) members Black and Blum design, manufacturer and supply a range of stylish and contemporary interior products. In November they were shocked to discover an identical product to their award winning Loop Candelabra being offered for sale by a company named Straits on their website. Through ACID accredited law firm McDaniel & Co they fired off a strongly worded “cease and desist” letter to Straits.  Subsequently, Straits agreed to remove the items from sale, destroy remaining stock and promised not to do this again in the future. In addition they agreed to make a contribution towards Black and Blum’s legal costs and also disclose the identity of the Chinese company who had manufactured the infringing product.  

Dan Black of Black & Blum said, “We are proud of our success with the Loop Candelabra (Grand Design Magazine Award winner for best home accessory in June 2007, presented by Kevin McCloud) and we are determined to send a clear message to anyone who decides to replicate it. We send all our new designs to the ACID Design Data Bank and also hold registered Community designs. This means that we can enforce our rights easily with a credible audit trail behind our designs. Those who produce lookalikes are rarely able to produce archived design and development drawings”. 

Andrew Lee of McDaniel & Co comments: “Black and Blum are aware of the options available to protect their innovative products. The registered design ensures maximum protection in the European Community against lookalike products whether these are deliberate copies or not, and lasts for 25 years offering protection in 27 member states. In addition, the fact that the product won an industry recognised award, is indicative of the design freedom and creativity bestowed upon the designer. This is important for infringement actions as companies with lookalike products therefore find it difficult to suggest any similar features are generic to that type of product such as the legs on a chair. Black and Blum have taken a pro-active approach to their intellectual property and have reaped the benefits.”

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO added, “So often designers think that taking legal action is going all the way to Court, but as a result of ACID’s formidable track record of settlements, a cease and desist letter can send a very strong warning shot across the boughs and achieve a positive result, as has happened in Black & Blum’s case.”

Black & Blum are an Anglo-Swiss Partnership who joined forces in 1998 and are based in London, the European heart of design. As a design consultancy they advise companies on any creative aspect. This accumulating insight into different markets catalysed the decision to develop their own range of products. It has since become a vehicle to fully explore, protect and commercialise their creativity.

Patricia Jones, a specialist IP lawyer writes, “Most people associate Trading Standards with seizures of counterfeit DVDs and clothing.  In fact the role of Trading Standards is far greater than this.  Trading Standards can seize any goods to which a registered trade mark has been applied without consent.  For example we have recently worked alongside Trading Standards in the seizure of machine parts that had been labelled with our client’s trade mark”. 

Trading Standards is the body responsible for enforcing the criminal aspects of trade mark law.  There are three main criminal offences in relation to trade marks which cover acts such as applying an infringing mark to goods, making or using packaging bearing an offending mark and making or keeping articles designed for reproducing an offending mark. 

Trading Standards are given extensive and wide-reaching powers of enforcement under the Trade Marks Act 1994 for the purposes of ascertaining whether an offence has been committed.  These powers include the right to enter premises and inspect and seize goods and documents.  The powers are exercisable without a search warrant and any person who obstructs an officer exercising his powers is liable to be prosecuted.  

Prosecutions can be brought by Trading Standards and are heard in either the Magistrates Court or Crown Court.  Offences committed under the criminal aspects of trade mark law carry with them penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.  Often the seizure of goods by Trading Standards is quicker and cheaper than enforcing trade mark law through civil proceedings.

This highlights one of the benefits of having a registered trade mark as Trading Standards can only exercise their powers when dealing with a registered trade mark.



A practical toolkit for the technology sector Thursday 12 March 2009 : 12.00 – 15.00 Deloitte, 2 New Street Square, London EC4A 3BZ

Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights, getting paid and dealing with all the business complexities of China is a serious challenge to London businesses. “Managing trading risks in China” will equip your business with a practical toolkit to successfully meet the challenges within the technology sector in China.

Topics covered will include:

Aimed at established London based ICT and technology companies, this workshop will further understanding of China’s market potential. With a leading panel of experts from within the field of commercial operations and export trade, companies will be offered practical advice on how to minimise the risks along with specialists in Chinese business legislation and IPR.

  • IPR Protection
  • Dispute resolution
  • Taxation
  • Due diligence
  • Securing payment
  • Licensing
  • Negotiating
  • Market entry barriers
  • Force Majeure
  • Contracts

FURTHER INFORMATION: +44 (0) 20 7234 3005 E:






Tuesday 10 March 2009
Time: 18.15 – 21.00
British Library Conference Centre
£10 (£7.50 concessions)

If you have a great business idea, long to pursue your dreams or just want to be your own boss, the British Library is bringing together four trailblazing British women for an evening of inspiration.  

In celebration of International Women’s Month, ‘Mothers of Invention’ is a rare opportunity to hear from, and put your questions to, a group of pioneers from fields as diverse as film, retail, marketing and design.


Gurinder Chadha OBE, director of Bend it Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice
Liz Jackson MBE, founder of telemarketing business Great Guns
Laura Tenison, who runs award-winning mother and baby brand JoJo Maman Bebe
Dee Wright, the brains behind The Hairforce, an innovative nit and lice removal service

Book online now


The Grand Designs Awards return for the fourth year to celebrate the very best examples of domestic architecture and product design. Coined the ‘Design Oscars’ within the industry, the awards strive to recognise those who have raised the bar in terms of design and architecture.

ACID Ambassador Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4′s hit TV programme, Grand Designs, commented:‘It’s never been more important to celebrate design excellence than in the current economic climate. The architects who produce bespoke, responsive buildings, the people designing innovative product, self-builders, and those brave souls who commission exemplary architecture, are the design heroes of our economy. They’re out there, still challenging perceptions, pushing at the boundaries of engineering, aesthetics and invention, and they need to be celebrated and given their moment.’

We are thrilled to announce that our high-profile judging panel of industry experts is ready to deliberate over the country’s finest work. The panel includes renowned designers such as Sebastian Conran, Wayne Hemingway, Kim Colin, Robin Levien and Luke Pearson, architects including George Ferguson, Deborah Saunt, Claudio Silvestrin and George Clarke, plus industry experts such as Paul King and Theo Williams.

New for 2009, the Grand Designs Awards is also extremely proud to announce that its chosen beneficiary this year is Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. Grand Designs is renowned for recognising and rewarding those at the cutting edge of changing the way we live, and so this year we are delighted to support the work of this important charity that tirelessly works with the homeless and people living in poor housing in the UK today.

Entries can be made online at The awards team can be contacted on 01992 570030. Deadline for entries is 15 February 2009. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 30 April 2009 in central London – tickets are available through the website Kevin McCloud will present the awards.


  • ACID Ambassador Sebastian Conran, director of Conran & Partners
  • Wayne Hemingway, partner of Hemingway Design and co-founder of Red or Dead
  • George Clarke, TV presenter, architect and creative director of  architectural practice clarke:desai
  • George Ferguson, former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and chairman of Acanthus Ferguson Mann Architects
  • Deborah Saunt, director of DSDHA Architects
  • Claudio Silvestrin, architect Claudio Silvestrin Architects
  • Robin Levien, creative director, Ideal Standard
  • Kim Colin, co-founder of Industrial Facility
  • Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council
  • Luke Pearson, co-founder of design partnership PearsonLloyd
  • Theo Williams, creative director at Habitat

Categories: Home - New-build house – Conversion – Eco house – Redesigned house – Extension – Housing development Product – Surfaces and finishes – Furniture – Lighting – Bathroom product – Kitchen systems- Innovative building product

Sponsors: Velux - Lutron - Kaldewei - First Direct - Hotpoint

For further information on the Grand Designs Awards 2009, please contact Sarah Dynan on 01992 570 030; email or visit