As ever, Spring Fair proved a fantastic launch pad for an impressive number of micro enterprises, as well as household names, all seizing the opportunity to market new designs and products. But it was a mixed Fair for ACID member Jan Constantine. On one hand her order book was full and over flowing but the excitement was tinged with frustration at having discovered not one, but three, alleged copies of one of her design collections. Most exhibitions are natural showcases for new products but some exhibitors can also be vulnerable to those who seek the fast track to market through copying and Jan was no exception this year.
Fortunately, ACID was able to help and, using the Exhibition Protocol for complaint handling, informed the people concerned and put them on notice regarding the complaints. Prior to that one of ACID’s IP lawyers had confirmed Jan’s IP ownership and that there were sufficient similarities in the alleged copies to inform the stand owners in question. None of the companies concerned cooperated with ACID’s requests to remove the products and matters are now being dealt with by ACID Accredited law firm McDaniel & Co. The clear message to anyone thinking about marketing any new product is that they are unauthorised to do so unless they have created their own intellectual property rights or have a license to market those products.
Following the alleged copying discoveries Jan Constantine commented, “All intellectual property rights in our designs are the property of Jan Constantine Ltd and any infringements will always be taken seriously. It took a significant amount of investment and time to create our product range and it’s something I feel very proud about. If people are proved to be copying, then the Spring Fair organisers should not allow them to rebook in the future.”
Jan Constantine’s background in fashion, interiors and styling proved a real driving force behind her ambition to fulfill a lifetime’s ambition and produce her own Collection and all the designs are created by her with help from her team to implement them. Copies of all designs are sent to the ACID Design Data Bank and this provides valuable evidence of the date they are received which provides compelling evidence in pursuing any IP infringement.
Jan commented about ACID, “We joined Anti Copying in Design (ACID) to protect our designs and the intellectual capital which underpins our brand. One of the main advantages is the visually powerful ACID logo which, when used at Fairs and Exhibitions, helps to deter others from copying. The ACID logo is prominently displayed on the homepage of our website and also inside the front cover of our new brochure.”
As a member of the newly created ACID Spring & Autumn Fair IP Steering Committee, Jan endorses ACID’s objectives to work closely with ACID Accredited Show Organisers Emap to build on the positive IP work already achieved. Not only in their support of respect for intellectual property, but also to ensure that the voices of those who represent ACID members and others exhibiting at the show are heard loudly and clearly so that improvements can be considered for the future. Jan hopes that the new ACID IP Steering Committee will be a first for many exhibitions in the UK. “After all”, added Jan, “We invest heavily each year in exhibiting at several exhibitions in the UK. We are there to market and sell our products, not to have to spend time going after copyists. We look to the UK exhibition organisers to take a leaf out of European organisers’ books who take a much firmer attitude to infringement of original designs”.
So, whether you are an established company within the giftware sector, or a start-up hoping to make it in today’s competitive market, there is no time like the start of a new decade to take a fresh look at what is one of your most important assets – your intellectual property. Daunting though it may sometimes appear, there are some simple steps all businesses should take to ensure that this precious commodity, the lifeblood of business in the 21st century, is protected. After all, we are no longer a nation of shopkeepers, ours is a knowledge economy and full exploitation of your intellectual property will be key in today’s competitive marketplace. One person’s innovative ideas – if carelessly discussed without confidentiality – can be another’s instant passport to success.