Commission it, don't copy it logoACID Launches “Commission it, don’t copy it!” Campaign!

John Lewis plc and Selfridges are already signatories of the ACID Voluntary Retailers’ Code of Conduct!

No wonder the UK’s high street retailers have a lot to thank Britain’s talented 230,000 strong design army for – design and innovation provides the competitive edge and the UK is rather good at it! (we are ranked 4th in the world internationally). Latest figures confirm the UK spends £33 billion on design.

Whilst the majority of retailers support and respect design origination, there are some retail design buyers who do not! With the recent emergence of a stream of look-alike designs, never has there been a better time for all design buyers to put their full weight behind British designers and join Anti Copying in Design’s (ACID) “Commission it, Don’t Copy it!” campaign which is supported by Elle Decoration. Launching on World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April 2012, the campaign aims to garner support from the UK’s major high street chains and independent retailers to commission original designs and never to produce look alikes.

On behalf of Government and in support of the ACID campaign Baroness Wilcox, The Minister for Intellectual Property said:

“The UK is rich in design talent.  Its many design-led small businesses not only generate direct value for the UK economy, they also underpin success for many larger firms across all sectors.  Anti Copying in Design’s ‘Commission it, Don’t Copy it’ campaign aims to engage plc buyers in working with the UK’s designers.   The relationships that develop will help more of the UK’s design businesses to emerge as key players and ensure that our major retailers reap the benefits of access to outstanding design and a corporate reputation for true originality. I welcome ACID’s work to help engage with and protect the UK’s design sector.”

Elle Decoration’s Editor in Chief, Michelle Ogundehin, adding her full weight behind the campaign said, We’re also proud to announce our official support for ACID (Anti Copying in Design) in its Commission It, Don’t Copy It campaign, which entreats UK retailers and manufacturers to proactively support original design and pay a royalty for each product sold. Britain has such a magnificent reputation for creativity, and I’d like to be proud of what this country stands for, not ashamed. Wouldn’t you? After all, in the inimitable words of ‘Moby Dick’ author Herman Melville, ‘It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO added, “Major high street retailers are invited to sign the ACID voluntary Code of Conduct. This contains a framework of values, with the intention of providing consumers with assurances as to the integrity of the designs and conduct of retailers. It is often difficult for design buyers to easily recognise design origination or understand about intellectual property ownership, so ACID has created a simple set of guidelines which it is intended will be helpful to work within to comply with UK IP law”.

Independent retailers who invest heavily in and support British designers are also invited to support the UK’s designers by becoming Retail Members of ACID and will be provided with a showroom sticker and Independent Retailer Member of ACID logo to show visible support for British designers to their customers.

Image of launch of Elle Deco campaign

L-R Philip Johnson IP Advisor Ministry of Foreign Affairs Denmark Michelle Ogundehin – Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration Sir Terence Conran – Conran Dids Macdonald – CEO of ACID

New Media Supporter of Anti Copying in Design (ACID)

With the support, over many years, from all of ACID’s trade media publications, ACID congratulates the first consumer publication – Elle Decoration, which has put its full weight behind the fight for equal rights for designers with its FIGHT THE FAKES campaign. At the moment in the UK and Europe designers cannot rely on the same laws as copyright owners. So, for example, if you infringe on an artists’ work it is a crime but if you steal the designs of, say a furniture designer, only civil redress is available. Also, an artist or songwriter can enjoy over 50 years’ protection, whereas under unregistered design rights a designer is lucky enough if they have 5 years before a reasonable licence must be granted.

ACID has been lobbying Government for equal rights for designers for over a decade and has enjoyed the support of many trade magazines. Now, Elle Decoration has put its full weight behind designers with their campaign FIGHT THE FAKES championing Equal Rights for Designers, which is great news because the lobbying focus has reached a crescendo with impact assessments having been completed, and, hopefully now a recommendation a full Government consultation.

Dids Macdonald said, “The first ray of light for equal rights for designers was after Professor Hargreaves’ IP recommendations to Government recognised ACID’s many SME case studies highlighting the copying plight of the UK’s designers, the majority of whom are micro and small businesses. Elle Decoration’s very public voice and compelling visual displays of iconic knock-offs currently being shown in the Conran Shop in Marylebone High Street, is a clear message that the knock off culture has to stop. Congratulations to Michelle Ogundehin for championing this cause, this is good news for Design UK! I hope this will help influence Government to recognise the importance of dealing with this anomaly for designers. The UK spend on Design amounts to £33 billion pounds a year, 2.4% of the UK’s GDP. It is about time designers were supported by the same rights as song writers, film makers and artists and to change the culture that it is OK to steal and free-ride on another’s design and creativity”. View the ACID LOBBY timeline history here

ELLE Decoration UK Editor-in-Chief Michelle Ogundehin said. “Just because it’s not illegal here in the UK, doesn’t make this sort of copying right. The ELLE Decoration UK Equal Rights for Design campaign is about protecting all creativity and ultimately Brand UK and we’re delighted to have the support of Sir Terence Conran. Our lax intellectual property laws with respect to design mean the UK has become a safe harbour for these copyists – and the idea of Britain as the home of the knock-off doesn’t exactly fill me with national pride.”

ACID Lobby LogoThis is an excellent opportunity for ACID members to contribute to building a better design law regime in the UK. British design makes a major contribution to the economy, but following ACID’s and others submissions to the recent review of IP and Growth, commissioned by the Prime Minister, Professor Hargreaves made it clear: ‘the role of IP in supporting this branch of the creative economy has been neglected’

The Intellectual Property Office has therefore commissioned Speechly Bircham and Mountainview Learning to explore the effectiveness of design law in the UK and to research ways of bringing the IP system up to date by examining:

  • How effective the current UK design protection system is seen to be;
  • Whether designers and design based companies believe they can access justice;
  • The effectiveness of remedies available for design infringement; and
  • Barriers to enforcement of design rights

The recommendations from the report prepared by Speechly Bircham will inform Government policy.

ACID members’ Involvement

The IPO hope to gain a broad insight into the way in which design law operates in practice. They are therefore keen to hear your views on (amongst other matters) the actual and perceived efficacy of design law, the benefits, disadvantages and availability of the various remedies available to address design right infringement and your proposed improvements to the current design law regime.

In this regard, They would be grateful if you could take the time to participate in the online questionnaire, which is being undertaken by Speechly Bircham and Mountainview, and which will help them understand whether the scope of the law relating to design and the structures and methods of protecting the aspects of design which you consider to be valuable are in your view “fit for purpose”, and if not, why not?

Please follow this link to the Questionnaire – it will open in a new window

Please note that the date for completion of the online questionnaire is 20 April 2012

Thank you in advance for your time with this