Decorex StandAs the Autumn exhibition season approaches it is time to review your exhibition protection policy and ACID has an exhibition guide available with many tips to ensure safe exhibiting.  Over the past 10 years ACID has worked proactively with teams of ACID Accredited Exhibition Organisers offering help and advice to all exhibitors, should they be unlucky enough to be copied, using the ACID exhibition protocol.  This is an on-site mediation service and is available to all exhibitors free of charge during the exhibition. ACID Accredited Exhibition Organisers support a zero tolerance to copying and fortunately the instances of copying have reduced over the years.

One of ACID’s other main purposes exhibitions is to hold one to one clinics on copyright, trademarks, design rights and patents, offering advice and guidelines as well as raising awareness about the need for IP protection.  Intellectual property is a positive force and can often be used for brand expansion in licensing, franchising and collaborative design partnerships.

This September ACID will be attending the following exhibitions;

Autumn Fair – Entrance to Hall 3, Stand L02

Top Drawer Autumn – Roving Team available on 07956229876

GLEE – Hall 5, Stand G68

100% Design – Stand  C26

You can telephone the ACID legal rover at the exhibition 07956229876 or alternatively visit the stand for help and advice on all intellectual property issues.

Teemo Pure Range ImageTeemo “Pure” range. Sculptural and functional glass furniture to inspire!

The new “Pure” collection of glass furniture by Teemo pushes the boundaries of what is possible with glass. Glued together using a clear and extremely high strength glue, each piece seems to improbably hang and balance together creating sculptural pieces that are also exceedingly functional. Nick Green, Teemo’s MD said, “Intellectual property is at the very heart of Teemo and, having spent a great deal of creative time and investment in our new products, one of the most important aspects is protecting our IP. Each time a new product is design we religiously send it to the ACID Design Data Bank. This provides us with the assurance that a responsible third party has evidence confirming the date the designs were received, an essential audit trail if anyone dared to copy us!”

As part of the new “Pure” collection Teemo have also introduced some painted glass elements giving blasts of colour within the range. There is a new coffee table that can be orientated in 3 positions to allow it to be a lamp table, end of sofa mini-shelf or low coffee table. Each position also incorporates storage as a secondary function.  Also included is a colourful and sculptural lamp table that seems quite impossibly to stay together made from 4 carefully proportioned and positioned squares of glass. All of these new items are available for purchase in small or larger quantities. As a design organisation Teemo can also design items for larger projects or make one off items to specification giving complete flexibility to contract, retail and domestic customers.

Meet the Teemo team at Stand B44 or vist their website:

Image of SueCongratulations to ACID Member Sue Scott Horne of Egar who has just been nominated for yet another award! Further to last months nominations she has also been nominated as a national finalist in the “Most Inspirational” category of the Inspiration Awards. To support and vote for her/EGAR please visit:

Also she is a regional finalist in the Barclays Trading Places Awards. She is also visiting City Hall, London Assembly and has been invited to join their Pan London Youth Participation Networks and will be speaking at their next event.

SABIP logoSABIP work and achievements – how it was left – what will happen now?

The new Government has wasted no time in pruning many quangos and SABIP (the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property) did not escape the axe wielding. Despite ACID previously meeting with SABIP to present ACID’s view, we did not feel that their level of work and understanding within design related issues was in line with their focus on other intellectual property rights (as recommended in the report by Andrew Gowers). However, it is hoped that their otherwise excellent research programme on the Economic Value of Intellectual Property to the UK will be taken forward by the team at the IPO headed by Tony Clayton. These are tough times, with the recent loss of the Film Council also and it is sad when organisations that put intellectual property at the heart of policy making, lose their voice.

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Issue 4 for 2010 of Sweet & Maxwell’s European Copyright and Design Reports (ECDR), which has recently been published, is a bit of a design special. Cases reported in this issue include Beifa v OHIM, Schwan-Stabilo (noted by Class 99 here), Crocs Inc v Holey Soles, Partenaire Hospitalier (noted by Class 99 here), and the OHIM Third Board of Appeal decision in Unistraw Asset Holding v Felfoldi Edesseggyarto.

Class 99 thinks it’s definitely a sign of good times ahead for the design sector when three out of the four cases in this traditionally copyright-biased publication are drawn from design law instead.

IPKat – Design is peeking its head above the parapet in all sorts of places!

An item in the most recent OAMI News, “Industrial design “key element” for China”, reports that Commissioner Tian Lipu (head of the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office) has spoken of the importance of industrial design in his country’s IP strategy. In this video interview he said that China was putting increasing emphasis on innovation and creativity as it attempted to move from being considered simply as a manufacturing location to a more design-oriented approach. Opinions regarding China are clearly divided at the moment. Those who put a positive spin on things are emphasising the steps the country is taking to make all IP enforcement a more viable and sometimes even attractive proposition for foreign businesses investing there. Others will be more cynical: while accepting that China recognises the importance of industrial design, they’d like that recognition to take the form of not seeking to register or manufacture non-Chinese designs.

Image of Andy LeeQ  I am an independent furniture designer but I do incorporate previous design features into my own original work, such as Chippendale style legs etc.  Does this affect the rights in my design?

The incorporation of common design features can in certain circumstances produce a new original design when taken as a whole. However, if someone were to copy the previous design features you had incorporated into your design in isolation then you could have no complaint. The originality and protection of your design would reside in the combination of features and therefore that combination would need to be appropriated for any claim to subsist.

However, it could be that another person copies your original parts without copying the old design features you had incorporated. In this situation it may be that you could rely on the originality of individual parts of your design that had been created by you.

In summary the incorporation of old features does not necessarily negatively affect your rights in your design but it could affect your ability to pursue others. Each case is always fact dependent and legal advice should be sought. The bottom line if in any doubt is to clarify your position with an IP specialist before marketing a new design which incorporates what could be described as the style of others.

Q  My company produces reproduction furniture based on items from the 18th and 19th centuries.  Are we able to register any of the designs we produce?

When applying for a registered design, the hurdle is whether the design applied for is new and of individual character. By new, this means that no new identical design has been made available to the public before the date on which the design for which protection is claimed is applied for. The design will be considered identical if its features differ only in immaterial details.

Further, a design shall be considered to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public before the date on which the design for which protection is claimed is applied for. Various factors, such as the degree of freedom of the designer, technical constraints and legislative requirements are taken into account.

Each case will depend on its own facts, but those are the basic requirements. If your company is producing copies of furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries without any substantial additions in appearance, then it is extremely unlikely they would be registrable as identical designs will have already been disclosed prior to the date you apply and those designs would give the same impression as the furniture you are producing.

Although there are typically no prior art checks undertaken by the relevant designs office, if the validity of the design was ever challenged, such as if you ever tried to enforce the registration against a third party, then the design would likely be invalidated for lack of novelty.

Q  I have often seen furniture marketed as ‘in the style of’ for example, Charles Eames.  Is this permissible under UK Design Law?

Purely under a UK design law basis, the issue would concern the appearance of such furniture rather than its branding, therefore marketing such furniture in that manner would not offend against any design law.

However, any potential issues that may arise could be in respect of trade mark laws or passing off. If, for example, a famous name was registered in respect of furniture, then it would essentially depend in what manner you were using that name, i.e. you may not be using it in a trade mark sense (i.e. to distinguish your goods from a competitor), but purely to denote a characteristic of your goods, as in the example above, and hence not offend against the registration. However, each case will depend on its own facts, and whether for example that use is honest.

Furthermore, if the trade mark was a really well known mark, then it could be said you were taking unfair advantage of that mark even if you are using it to denote a characteristic.

If you are in any doubt about what is permissible, seeking legal advice is recommended.

Q  My company has been producing a very successful range of bedroom furniture for some years.  Another company has recently approached me and said that now I have to allow them to produce it also.  Is this right?

Yes, potentially. If your furniture is the mass produced type, and you have not sought a formal design registration, then any protection is likely to be limited to the UK unregistered design right. The right lasts for 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which that design document or that article came into existence (whichever occurred first).

However, if articles made to the design are sold anywhere in the world within the first five years then the design right will expire 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the articles were first made available for sale or hire.

In the last 5 years of the right, any person is entitled as of right to a licence to produce your designs. If you cannot agree terms then this can be resolved by the Design Comptroller.

However, the matter may not be so simple. If your furniture for example is handmade, then it may be protected by copyright, to which no licence of right applies. In addition, any surface patterns, such as engravings, or prints on the furniture could also be copyright. In those circumstances, again, those parts of the furniture would not be subject to the licence of right.

In this situation, it would be advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Q  I have produced a chair design which I think is suitable for mass production.  What sort of documentation should I have in place before I contact manufacturers in the Far East for production quotes?

Most people acknowledge that copying in the Far East is problematic. Furthermore, as those copyists are so far away, it can often be difficult to take action. On the other hand, this needs to be balanced with the fact that savings in production costs can be made by shifting production to those countries.
The first steps could be to contact any acquaintances who also use companies in the Far East as they may be able to recommend a trustworthy contact.   However, when it comes to sending prototypes for quotes, there are measures you can put in place to offer at least some protection. The ACID Intellectual Property Agreement could be useful. This is a short agreement that you would give to the manufacturer and ask them to sign before sending them any prototype, or sample of your designs. Signed agreements provide clarity of ownership should you ever need to rely on them in any dispute.
The agreement outlines that you are the owner of the samples and any intellectual property rights. The manufacturer, by signing the agreement would acknowledge that and also agree not to do anything with the samples without your written consent. It would also subject the manufactures to English law and jurisdiction meaning it is simpler and less costly to take action.
Of course, this does not offer any guarantee that things will not go wrong but it simplifies matters as opposed to having no written agreement in place.

EMap logo“Internet overtakes television to become biggest advertising sector in the UK”

You may recall seeing this headline on The Guardian website earlier this year.  In time, it may become a pretty memorable moment in the history of media.

The UK has become the first major economy where advertisers spend more on internet advertising than on television advertising. The Guardian added: “It has taken the internet little more than a decade to become the biggest advertising sector in the UK.”

The average Briton now spends 30 hours a week online; that’s a couple of hours on the internet for work every day; 93% of us shop online, and Broadband is supposedly becoming as important to our quality of life as gas or electricity!
So what’s the relevance of all this for businesses that attend exhibitions?  Well, more buyers are now using the internet, and more specifically, exhibition websites as a permanent sourcing directory of products and suppliers.  With that, comes the risk of unscrupulous copying by individuals and businesses.

Digital Commercial Director at Emap Connect, Iain Nicol states that “at the same time as helping exhibitors attract more buyers by enabling them to enhance their online company profile with product and stand images, press releases, newsletters, product catalogues etc, we are also continuing to work with groups such as ACID to help exhibitors protect their intellectual assets.  This includes; enabling exhibitors to add the ACID Accredited Exhibition Organiser logo to their online profile page; download useful guides to help exhibitors prepare for attending exhibitions and retailers to avoid risking design infringement.”

Nicol adds “useful and relevant content attracts and motivates buyers and makes exhibitors and their products more visible and enticing both on the website and via search engines.  It is equally important that we do all we can to help exhibitors protect themselves and their products as we do more than ever to help exhibitors enhance their online presence on our websites and deliver a better return on investment for their time, effort and money”.

Summing up Nicol stated “Emap is committed to protecting the IP of its customers, so these initiatives with ACID are considered just as important as the huge effort s we are making to increase their online visibility”.

Article written by Iain Nicol, Commercial Director Digital (Exhibitions) 1st September 2010