It is with great sadness that ACID announces the death of their great friend and graphic designer Mr. Simon Morley.  Simon had been fighting against cancer throughout this year and he finally lost his brave battle recently.

 SIMON MORLEYSimon, through his company Coppertop Creative, was the ‘man behind the ACID brand’.  He created everything that you associate with ACID  – the strong ‘warning’ colourway of black and yellow, the logos, the  exhibition graphics, the newsletters and so much more.  Initially, his job was to make Intellectual Property a ‘user-friendly’ subject that was easy to understand – a tough task, but skilfully and brilliantly executed.  

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO said “Simon had a rare creative ability to make the often-described ‘grey’ subject of intellectual property ‘sing’!  More importantly, through our close working relationship, lengthy dialogue was rare because intuitively he could interpret our brief into visually strong and compelling messages, consistently.  ACID will always be in his debt.” 


Jane Stephenson, ACID’s Membership Development Manager adds “I first worked exclusively with Simon on the re-design of our 68-page IP Guide.  This was a complete baptism of fire for me because I had little experience of graphics and sometimes  I was overly optimistic on what could be achieved!   During the years that we worked together Simon, with great patience,  passed on a lot of his extensive knowledge which meant that I can now confidently edit and arrange production of the ACID e-mail and quarterly newsletters and also control the maintenance and creation of the ACID websites. None of this would have been possible without Simon’s valuable input.  We will all miss his considerable skill and talent but most of all, his great sense of humour and witty banter.”

In 2006 it was time for ACID to have a more sophisticated style  and with a fairly sketchy brief, we  left it to Simon to create.  Quickly he metamorphosed ACID’s initial ‘look and feel’ to represent an organisation which had earned its colours and was more representative of the sectors within which we work.  This gave us a greater sense of unity and the increase in our website traffic has been phenomenal. 

Simon’s work ethic matched his professionalism and ACID can never remember him missing a deadline (some of which were impossibly tight) but Simon always got the job done. Even to the extent of returning to the office one Christmas Eve when ACID’s printers contacted him to say that urgent files had become adulterated.                                                                                        

 XMAScpSimon always thought of others.  He adored his family and was very proud of his daughters Kiri and Jenny, whom he would mention frequently.  He had a passion for hockey and in his spare time was involved in Clifton Ladies Hockey Club where he coached and also cheered-on Jenny when she was playing.  He also kept us up to date with Kiri’s University life in Canada and her volunteer trips to Africa. Our sympathies go to Simon’s Wife Val, daughters, Mum and sisters - and also to ‘the beagle boy’ who will be missing his long walks on Cleeve Hill.

Verona_381CPLeading contract furniture designer and Anti Copying in Design (ACID) member Morgan Contract Furniture has resolved its claim against PTT Design Limited.  In the High Court action, Morgan claimed that PTT had copied a number of Morgan designs which PTT had then supplied to Hyatt Hotels during 2006.  Morgan had been tendering for the same hotel refurbishment project.Como_175CP1

The terms of settlement, achieved at a mediation, included undertakings from PTT and its individual directors that they would not in the future infringe design rights in seven of Morgan’s furniture designs.  PTT also agreed to pay £65,000 towards damages and costs.

Rodney McMahon, Managing Director of Morgan, commented: “As Chairman of the British Contract Furniture Association, I am passionate about the industry and protecting the rights of designers.  My primary objective here was to protect my business and the designs in which we had invested so heavily and which were key products for us.  However, I was also keen to demonstrate that the legal process can work effectively for business if you have clear, achievable objectives and the process is well managed.  I would also wholly endorse the mediation process which, when used effectively, can result in the resolution of disputes like this effectively at a relatively early stage of proceedings.”Opera166ACP

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s Chief Executive added, “Whilst this is a just outcome for such a clear cut case, one has to ask why PTT’s advisors did not suggest that they came to the mediation table even sooner. This is a strong message to the industry that organisations like Morgan who have built their impressive reputation as design-led, world class manufacturers, will never allow their brand to be eroded by look alikes”.


Morgan Furniture was represented by Tim Ashdown, Partner at ACID accredited law firm DMH Stallard


Tim Ashdown, DMH Stallard 

Furniture images,  top to bottom Morgan Furniture’s Como, Opera and Verona original designs

PortaRomanaSLB28L-SLVWhen ACID member Porta Romana discovered a Dutch company, Maretti, selling what appeared to be copies of their ribbon, wisp, organic lip and sculptured ribbon wall lights and table lamps, they decided to take legal action immediately. Following a series of letters of claim Maretti have responded by removing the images from their website and have confirmed that they will not offer the lamps for sale. A spokesperson on behalf of Maretti said, “We were unaware that the lamps we were selling were an infringement and we will be happy to remove them”.

Leading designers and manufacturers Porta Romana, known worldwide as creators of objects of beauty, draw on the finestTWL10-2-NKL skills of glass blowing, metalworking, sculpting and furniture making. Over the past 20 years their ethic has never changed, and has led to the creation of a body of work including innovative and iconic lamp designs.

Following the settlement, ACID member Andrew Hills said, “Porta Romana pieces can be seen in the world’s most beautiful interiors, including private homes, hotels and yachts. They feature regularly in the top interior magazines, and can be seen in many design publications. As such, the intellectual property in the brand, in which we have invested so heavily, has underpinned our past success and will be key to our future. We will take legal action whenever we discover look alikes”


Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO said, “The internet can be an instant resource for creators and innovators like Porta Romana to keep their fingers on the pulse of possible infringements. Taking legal action is not necessarily going all the way to Court. Often, as in this case, a series of well crafted legal letters before action can achieve positive results in a timely manner.”

Niall Head Rapson of ACID Accredited law firm McDaniel & Co acted on behalf of Porta Romana.  All images shown are original Porta Romana designs.

ilsa parrycp

Congratulations to product designer Ilsa Parry, who has been unveiled as the winner of BBC 2’s Design for Life competiton, featuring Phillipe Starck. Liverpool-based Ilsa won the show with her innovative Flo design. The show, which began on BBC 2 on September 14th, followed the progress of 12 budding product designers under the tutelage of Phillipe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet. Parry, 27, from Liverpool developed her winning walking aid design after exploring lifecycles and studying perpetual motion during assignments given by Starck, becoming fascinated by improving the efficiency of products and extending their lifecycles. Applying these concepts to humans, Ilsa created the Flo walking aid with the intention of helping the less mobile retain a sense of self. 

Of her intellectual property, Ilsa commented, “I am a great believer in providing a platform and support for new and emerging designers to develop their skills and ideas. Organisations such as ACID are integral in developing the next generation of designers by helping them protect their work and ultimately encouraging further innovation within our community. I like to look at all my products as companions to their owners, to be used in conjunction with their daily lives, being used wherever they may go and enabling them,” explains Ilsa, “The idea behind Flo was to let those who are less physically able lead the lives that their bodies don’t necessarily enable but their minds may do.” 

Made from a carbon fibre composite, the elegantly twisted Flo discreetly positions to lock the lower leg in place whilst the longer retained upper body strength is used intuitively to pull the body up in an elegant manner to retain dignity. Ilsa continued, “I am so thrilled to have won Design for Life – it has been a great learning experience for me, especially as I was given the chance to work with Phillipe and Eugeni. As a designer my focus has always been on innovation and experimentation, getting people to question things and recognise products for what they are and assisting people to build relationships with the products they own in order to encourage people to be more discerning as consumers – a belief which I found was also integral to the Starck company.” 

Ilsa’s win was followed by a six-month placement with Starck in Paris where she was able to further develop her design skills, leading to the establishment of REthinkthings, Ilsa’s creative management company. Ilsa’s designs will be on display at the Liverpool Design Festival from October 29th – November 1st at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The Flo design currently has patents pending in the UK and US. Ilsa has just released onto the market her Kaspa Ghost lamp, a recnet finalist in ‘Gift of the Year’ and composed of ‘smart’ materials.

ACID are also pleased to have another ‘Design for Life’ contestant within membership, Robert Meredith.

SeanDare-DM 003Recently ACID’s CEO Dids Macdonald was privileged to be made a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers together with seven others, including ACID member Sean Dare of Dare Studio. Fundamental to the WCFM is having one foot firmly in the past – ensuring Britain’s heritage of excellence in cabinet making and furniture design is upheld, with the other foot placed firmly in the future, enabling tomorrow’s furniture designers innovate and find inspiration. The inauguration was just that.

Left -  Dids Macdonald and  Sean Dare meet up again at 100 % Design


Bucks Furniture Design MA Course Tutor Dr Lynn Jones and Tony Smart of the WCFM were the driving forces behind a truly inspirational week’s summer school in Italy. Director and founder Diego Paccagnella of LAGO provided access to their factory and design studios and the students lived, ate, worked and had fun while working together in rural Italian surroundings. This amazing journey included a visit with Giancarlo Piretti (of Plia chair fame) who personally hosted a workshop.

The brief for the week was ‘to research, develop, design furniture (or furniture related products)  to improve the learning experiences of College and University students.’  The inspirational ideas and creative thought (translated into potentially exciting outcomes) were presented at the WCFM - a dynamic result charged with real enthusiasm. If ACID readers are interested I am sure that Lynn Jones would be really happy to talk about the project and the WCFM’s involvement.

Contact details:

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In the latest IP Doctor article, IP lawyer Andrew Lee of McDaniel & Co answers your questions on Patents.

What is a Patent?

A  patent is an IP right covering new inventions. Patents generally have a life span of 20 years from the date of the patent application. Patents cover concepts, NOT what something looks like. By having a patent, the owner can take action to prevent others from using his invention.

The justification for having a patent system is to encourage inventors to disclose their inventions, and how they work, in exchange for a limited monopoly over the invention itself. After the patent has expired, the inventions are free for all to use which, in turn, could aid improvements and developments in that industry.

Examples of well known products covered by patents which have now expired are the Dyson vacuum cleaner and the Workmate workbench.

What are the requirements for a valid patent?

A patent must be

  • New
  • Inventive
  • Capable of industrial application
  • Not one of the excluded areas

An invention will be new if it has not been done before, anywhere in the world, prior to the date you apply. It is therefore important that before you apply for a patent, you take steps to ensure your inventions are only discussed under confidential conditions. It is also advisable that if you are thinking of patent protection, you consult a lawyer at an early stage. The last thing you want is for your patent to be invalid through your own actions.

For a patent to be inventive it must have what is known as an ‘inventive step’. The invention must not be obvious. The test is “the man skilled in the art” who is a hypothetical person (or persons), used by the Courts, and said to have common general knowledge of the sector of the invention concerned. They are also presumed to have no inventive capability. If the invention would be obvious to that person, then the patent will fail on these grounds.

To be capable of industrial application, a patent must simply be capable of being used in any kind of industry. It does not actually have to have been applied industrially.

There are various exclusions from protection which include discoveries, scientific theories, schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, computer programmes and the presentation of information.

Do I need to have a patent to protect my inventions?   

Sometimes, businesses try to protect their inventions by keeping ideas and methods a trade secret and ensuring no-one else knows about them. For example, the coca cola recipe is a strictly guarded trade secret. Also see the BBC website article in respect of Irn-Bru at Attempting to protect your ideas, however, by keeping them secret, may be unsuitable. For example, a newly improved mechanical device, such as a folding ladder, is unsuitable for protection this way because as soon as one ladder is sold, the invention is seen.

Even with inventions which could be protected by way of keeping them secret the protection is still relatively fragile and requires stringent in house procedures to ensure the risk of the information becoming public is minimal. This will not however prevent other businesses using similar techniques; they just will not know yours. A patent would give a monopoly over that invention however arrived at.

What does it mean when a product is advertised as “Patent Pending?”

This simply means a patent has been applied for but it does not mean that the patent is going to be granted. The existence of a patent application, even if unlikely to result in the grant of a patent, can still have a deterrent effect. Those who seek to use the invention risk being sued when the patent is granted. It can also give the impression to potential customers that the product is in someway special or unique. It is, however, an offence to represent that a product is a patented product, or the subject of a patent application, when that is not the case.

Can I get patent protection in different countries?

Yes. Patents are territorial in nature which means they are granted on a country by country basis. At present, there is no European wide patent, covering all 27 member states, such as for trade marks and registered designs. There are however procedures in place to allow you to make one application to cover a number of European countries in that application. The result of a successful application is a bundle of individual patents in different countries at a lower cost than individual applications to each country.

You should seek advice from a lawyer on the best ways to protect your inventions and the methods of extending that protection abroad.

EU Commission public consultation published


Early in 2009 The European Commission launched a consultation on the role of design with regards to innovation and competitiveness.  Emphasising the importance of design, approximately 90% of the responses demonstrated clearly that businesses consider design very important for the future competitiveness of the European economy.

According to the Commission, “More than 95% believe initiatives supporting design should be an integral part of innovation policy in general and that initiatives supporting design should be taken at the European Community level as well as at the local level. From an intellectual property perspective, it is worth noting that only 5% of people associate design with the corresponding intellectual property right. Moreover, while the Commission working document suggested that there may be untapped potential for the use of design, specifically in SMEs and low-tech companies, a large majority of organisations responded that there is a need for a more targeted SME policy and that such a targeted policy should exist at the EU level”.

In section 4.1 The definition of design People associate design with different things. To the question “What is the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word ‘design’?”, 39 percent of organisations responded “A designed object or the design of an object”, 26 percent repied “design as an activity in an organisation”, while only 5 percent said “An intellectual property right.” A further 28 percent stated “Other”.  Among the suggestions under “Other” were included  “The process of design, design as a methodology or way of thinking, strategy, business, beauty, meaning, communication, service design, the use of logic, creativity and intuition,  the interface between arts and technology and interpreting actuality.”

To view the whole report click here