Dear ACID members
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of an Intellectual Property review to be undertaken by Professor Ian Hargreaves, I wrote to him welcoming this initiative. I explained that ACID members play an important role in creating IP and providing employment for many thousands of people within the creative industries and that ACID’s main objectives are to assist our members in the protection of their IP rights through education and awareness, prevention, deterrence against infringement and fast track support when their rights are infringed. I reminded him that, through ACID LOBBY, we are determined to ensure that design’s voice is heard loudly and clearly within IP policy.
In my letter I said that we are looking for a more level playing field for micro enterprises and SME’s to access a cost and time effective framework to address the growing problems of infringement, much of it emanating from China. China is a difficult country in which to do business and many find their IP is seriously at risk from local partners with little hope of redress because it is so difficult to take legal action in China. For example out of the UK’s 250,000 designers 87% employ less than 10 people.
I outlined our disappointment with the last IP Review – the Gowers Report, whose mandate was to ensure that all intellectual rights were fully represented, to find that there was so little reference to design issues. The same was true of SABIP’s research documents where there was absolutely no mention of design. I therefore hope that Professor Hargreaves will ensure that design’s voice is heard within the consultative process.
Members may remember that Nick Kounoupias and I recently met with John Alty, CEO of the UKIPO, to discuss the inconsistencies which exist with regard to the protection of design rights in the UK. Unlike copyright infringement, design right infringement is not a criminal offence and can only be dealt with by way of civil proceedings. This gives rise to anomalies and inequality of treatment which are very damaging to hundreds of small businesses and designers across the UK and restricts the level of legal protection and support they can expect to receive. I very much hope that the independent review body will ensure that this disparity is rectified to ensure that designers are properly able to protect their intellectual property. Without this much-needed reform, the UK will be left with a damaging two-tier system of IP protection where infringement of one sort of IP is regarded as less serious and harmful than another.
In a disappointing response to ACID’s petition for unregistered design infringement to be afforded the same privileges as copyright infringement I was surprised by the Government’s claim, “That unlike copyright and trademarks, design right infringement can often be inadvertent!” ACID disagrees strongly as do many members, including Patrick Heeley, Managing Director of ACID member Villeroy & Boch who commented “I was astonished by the Government’s clear lack of concern in this issue, and the reference to design infringement often being ’inadvertent’. It is a disgraceful dismissal of the problem.” Villeroy & Boch employ 250 people in the UK.
If you would like to contribute to ACID’s response to the above IP Review or have any comments about Government’s statement that they believe most design infringement is “inadvertent”, I would be delighted to hear from you.
ACID is delighted to announce that it has adopted as one of its 3 charities, FIT The Furnishing Industry Trust. www.fi-trust.co.uk. FIT is an independent charity enhancing the lives of those who are working, or have worked, in the furnishing industry and who are now facing financial hardship or a personal crisis. They provide grants for desperately needed one-off items and weekly grants for individuals, couples and their families suffering ongoing hardship. The money they give transforms lives for people and their families in the Furnishing Industry.
Despite all the challenges that the current economic weather throws at us, I hope that 2011 will be very rewarding. My huge thanks, as ever, go to the terrific ACID team headed by Jane Stephenson, to our Accredited lawyers, McDaniel & Co & DMH Stallard, our ever growing mass of supporters and, of course, to you, for continuing to support the work we do.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Dids Macdonald, CEO