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

Anti Copying in Design (ACID) welcomes the All Party Parliamentary IP Group’s announcement of a new enquiry into the role of Government in protecting and promoting intellectual property

Responsibility for development/enforcement of IP policy stradles many Government departments/agencies and despite numerous reviews into IP policy in the past ten years, the decision-making framework within which policy is developed and agreed has not been sufficiently examined. The APPG for IP will examine the plethora of cross-departmental responsibilities engaged in formulating IP policy, asking whether it works and whether the machinery of government can be improved for better policy formulation.

Chaired by John Whittingdale, MP., leading an IP focused and informed group of cross party MPs and Lords, the enquiry intends to look at a range of issues including:

•    The purpose and goal of IP policy
•    Where and how IP policy is developed in Government
•    How IP policy has developed and been coordinated within the digital policy environment
•    How the Government interacts and coordinates IP policy at an international level
•    How policy impacting the protection of IP is coordinated across departments

ACID CEO Dids Macdonald, commenting on the announcement said, “At last IP is bubbling on main stream Government radar, about time! A good result for the many pioneers who have tirelessly raised the importance of IP to the UK over the years. Let’s hope that this is a sensible, practical approach to ensure that the needs of IP owners and users are effectively considered, fairly by sound Government policy. The willingness of this All Party Parliamentary IP Group to examine how the UK promotes the protection of IP rights and to fully understand how IP Policy matches commercial demands should provide a welcome and informed neutral conduit to influence Government thinking post Hargreaves. It sets off to a good start by limiting responses to 4 pages!”

Organisations wishing to submit evidence (max 4 pages) should email by 30th March. Information regarding evidence sessions will be published on the APPG website at when they have been scheduled.  The evidence sessions will be open to the public.

A full list of the members of the All-Party Intellectual Property Group can be found on their website

The review of Intellectual Property and Growth, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves, was tasked with examining how the UK’s intellectual property framework can further promote entrepreneurialism, economic growth and social and commercial innovation. ACID is a membership organisation assisting its members in the protection of their IP. ACID champions design law improvements through ACID LOBBY and the Alliance Against IP Theft.

Contact Dids Macdonald or call 0845 644 3617

ACID are also members of the Alliance Against IP Theft

Calling all members who rely on copyright – Your chance to contribute!

The Hargreaves Review was launched by the Prime Minister to look at enhancing the impact the IP system has on growth and reported in May 2011. In August 2011 the Government set out the range of actions that it will take in response to the Review. Its aim (they say) is to remove unnecessary barriers to growth from the IP system while maintaining appropriate incentives for investment in the creation of IP. What do you say? We urge members to respond to this further consultation to provide evidence/case studies where at all possible. Thanks mainly to you, our members who contributed ACID submission to the Hargreaves Review; Design was included as a top Government priority for IP reform. However, this is a final reminder to invite membership to contribute to the copyright consultation due to close on 21 March 2012

The main aspects which affect ACID membership are:

Orphan Works

The inability to use orphan works is a significant problem. Hargreaves states, “Works to which access if effectively barred because the copyright holder cannot be traced represents the starkest failure of the copyright framework to adapt”. Do you agree/disagree? If so why? Do you believe that the system needs to be revised where there are problems assessing unknown copyright status in commercial and non-commercial use such as books, films, music and photographs?

Copyright Licensing

What aspects of the current collective licensing system work well for users and rights holders and what are areas for improvement? There is a proposal to introduce Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) on a voluntary basis in the UK. ECL is a type of rights clearance that would allow an authorised collecting society – one that represents the majority of rights holders in a sector – to license for specific uses of works within the UK on behalf of all rights holders in that sector, except for those who choose to opt out. Are you affected by this? What aspects of the current collective licensing system work well for users and rights holders and what are the areas for improvement? How could it be simplified? Should there be Codes of Conduct for collecting societies?

Exceptions to Copyright – Some which we believe affect ACID members

Private Copying

Do you agree that to introduce a private copying exception to permit an individual to copy creative content that they own to other devices, media and platforms poses a commercial threat to the originator?
Parody, caricature and pastiche – Possible proposals to create a new exception allowing people to use creative works for this purpose without infringing copyright. At the moment individuals, broadcasters and others who wish to create parodies from existing works face legal barriers and administrative costs due to copyright law. Do you agree that a parody exception could create new opportunities for economic growth? Would you be affected and would this negatively impact on copyright owners?

Cost of taking IP legal action

The costs of taking action against any intellectual property infringement places a hug burden on micro businesses and SME’s.  Professor Hargreaves said, “There is no obvious means to clarify the boundaries of copyright infringement in the new circumstances which digital technology creates. Nor has the IPO any means to clarify the law  where it is causing misunderstanding and confusion – as it manifestly is for many people – in a way which carries formal authority, although it has equivalent functions in patents and trade marks”.

IPO Copyright Opinion Service

The Review proposed a new statutory function on the IPO in this area “A power to publish formal copyright opinions in order to clarify the application of copyright law and specifically the application of copyright exceptions, where new circumstances have arisen, or where there is evidence of confusion as to what is allowed under copyright law”.

Would you benefit from this sort of clarification? Should it be reserved for SME’s as the group likely to produce the greatest benefit in economic terms? Have you experienced a copyright dispute over the last 5 years? If so, did you consult lawyers and how much did it cost?


Do you think it would be helpful for the IPO to provide (for a fee) a non-binding dispute resolution service for specific disputes relating to copyright.
Why shouldn’t this be extended to design infringement on both a legal opinion service and mediation? This would appear to be another area where the UK IPO fail designers by not including them in reform for other unregistered rights.

Please email your responses directly to Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID

ACID Lobby logoThe Government today announced new measures which aim to help SME’s better protect their intellectual property and grow their businesses. Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said: “The intellectual property of SME businesses is vital to their future economic growth and success. Their innovative ideas and creations can be worth billions of pounds so it is essential that we provide them with the support they need to protect and enforce their rights. The package of measures outlined today will allow the Intellectual Property Office to build even stronger links with businesses, giving them the confidence to trade both in the UK and abroad.”

Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID added, “This is a really positive step, we have been lobbying for the last decade for improvements in IP support for SME’s and this has paid off. The pace is hotting up with a whole raft of new support mechanisms. This valuable engine of the economy needs real action to replace previously rather empty words!”

ACID has been working with the UKIPO since The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth on their recommendations that the Intellectual Property Office should produce plans to improve the accessibility of the IP system to smaller companies within the design sector. The Government accepted these recommendations and is now in the process of implementing them.

Key actions announced today by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) include:

  • A new online business advisor training tool
  • An online register of advisors to help businesses find the right advisor for them quickly and easily
  • Consulting businesses, business advisors and IP specialists about how lower cost IP legal and commercial advice can be provided
  • Offering free intellectual property audits to businesses through routes such as the Technology Strategy Board
  • Enhancing existing schemes such as mediation to provide a more efficient dispute resolution service that can prevent potentially costly legal cases

The previous improvements include: A small claims process to be created for cases under £5,000 will be introduced at the Patents County Court for cases involving copyright, trademarks and designs; Launching Ipsum, an online patent service that could save UK business nearly £100,000 per year. It removes the cost to businesses of requesting patent documents; instead they will now be available for free online; Re-running the Fast Forward Competition which encourages Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) to work together with businesses to share research, innovation and intellectual property (IP).  £760,000 is available for winning bids to invest in research and knowledge transfer projects that have the potential to create new companies or services; and Supporting the Technology Strategy Board to develop an IP strategy for the new technology and innovation centres.

View the IPO Press release

Dear ACID members

We need your help to affect positive change in new UK design policy!

As a result of the compelling submission from ACID (and other groups) to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, the creation and shaping of new design policy has been brought to the forefront as one of its top 10 IP priorities with Government endorsement from the Prime Minister.

Since then, The ACID team has been collaborating with its diverse network within the design community to help the UK Intellectual Property Office gather the right sort of evidence to influence and shape future policy to support design – a critical contributor to the UK economy – 2.4% or £33 billion at the last count! This is why I am writing to you for your input by completing the UKIPO questionnaire. It will only take a few minutes of your time and can be completed on the UKIPO website

ACID Requests!

In addition, to strengthen the ACID main submission and recommendations, please would you help us by sending your case study evidence, this is a unique opportunity and it will only happen with your collaboration. We need your own examples of copying issues – real, hard evidence to support the case for policy improvements. The UKIPO will subsequently make their recommendations to Government. Please used the attached document as a guide.

Please send these to or directly to

The ACID team has spent the last 10/15 years helping to ensure that design’s voice is heard on IP issues and now, through a united approach, we can influence real change. It is the first time that design is included as a mainstream Government recommendation and depending upon the strength of the case we can put forward, there will be a full consultation prior to an opportunity for potential legislative change in 2013. Questions are already starting to be asked in Parliament on design IP issues.

On behalf of us all at ACID and the wider design community, we very much welcome your support and would appreciate your responses by 7th November so that we can submit them by 11th November. We would personally welcome any further thoughts you may have on strengthening our case so please do pick up the phone or send us an email

Best Wishes

The ACID team

ACID Lobby logoParliamentary ActivityDesign has moved up on Government’s radar following the Hargreaves Review on Intellectual Property to which ACID submitted a compelling case for policy reform. There has been a recent flurry of questions tabled and answered by Ed Davey, The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills during Question Time at the House of Commons:

Q – Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he plans to bring forward proposals to provide design the same legal protection as copyright

A – Mr Davey: The Government broadly accepted the recommendations of the Hargreaves review of intellectual property and growth, in particular, that policy should be evidence based. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched a ‘call for Evidence’ on design intellectual property (IP), which, together with an online survey, will help us identify changes to the designs IP framework that users of the system think are now needed

Q – Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects his proposed copyright small claims jurisdiction to be in place

A – Mr Davey: The Government are examining the business case for the introduction of a small claims track in the patents county court. We intend to report on progress this autumn. Subject to an appropriate business case being established, the Government would look to implement the change as soon as possible thereafter, hopefully in 2012

Q – Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what research his Department has (a) evaluated and (b) commissioned to quantify the effects of design infringement on small businesses.

A – Mr Davey: In September 2011 the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) published the results of independent research into design economics, which added to existing evidence about the difficulties faced by small businesses seeking to protect design. Further research is now under consideration, while other work by the IPO—a ‘call for evidence’ on design IP, together with an online survey will help identify potential solutions.

In addition to the above, Chi Onwurah asked a Parliamentary Question on the Digital Economy Act, which has been answered by Ed Vaizey

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what statutory instruments he plans to lay before the House under the provisions of the Digital Economy Act 2010; and when he expects to lay each such instrument before the House.

Mr Vaizey: The Government will be submitting two statutory instruments to the House over the coming period to take forward the online infringement of copyright provisions within the Digital Economy Act 2010. The first, which is currently under consideration under the terms of the technical standards directive, sets out the way in which the costs of the provisions will be shared by industry. The second will be an order setting out the initial obligations code. We would expect the instruments to be laid before both Houses in the first quarter of 2012.

CEO Dids Macdonald with Mr Guriqbal Singh Jaiya, WIPO Director of SME Division and Jeremy Philpot EPO Innovation

CEO Dids Macdonald with Mr Guriqbal Singh Jaiya, WIPO Director of SME Division

Following an invitation from the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) sponsored by the European Patent office (EPO) to a two-day SME and IP event held in Munich last week, Dids Macdonald CEO of ACID took the opportunity to raise awareness of the extensive use of unregistered and informal IP rights by the creative industries in the UK. Statistics from around Europe reinforced the fact that the UK is not alone in the distinct lack of formal IP registrations to support their business models.

Representatives from many national IP offices and other relevant institutions in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shared their experiences in work being undertaken to help raise awareness about the significance of IP training for those involved with training the intermediaries who interface with SME’s in business mentoring. “Train the IP trainers effectively” was one of the key messages being discussed by delegates. Access to the EPO IP4inno website, which is an excellent site offering training modules for those involved in IP mentoring. The ip4inno project is funded by the European Commission as a part of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Its main aim is to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) enhance their understanding and use of intellectual property rights with a view to promoting innovation and competitiveness in line with the European Commission’s Lisbon goals.

Dids Macdonald, talking about ACID experiences emphasised the importance of providing one to one IP clinics on a wide variety of subjects, access to expert help at the end of a telephone and a proactive approach to communication of an IP strategy both internally and externally through the supply chain. Speaking at the event, Dids said, “The UK comprises of many micro and small businesses and designers account for approximately 232,000 but the majority of them have less than 4 employees. As such, many small firms are isolated and IP law can seem very complex, so it is important to move towards uncomplicated user friendly access to practical IP help and information”. Dids introduced ACID’s latest self-help tool for businesses sending confidential information by email, the IP Tracker. A simple to use cost effective tracking of confidential IP content to third parties. This works in harmony with ACID’s Design Data Bank which holds approximately 300,000 copies of members’ designs.


ACID (Anti Copying In Design) welcomes an open invitation to the UK design sector from Baroness Wilcox, Minister for Intellectual Property, to shape future IP Design Policy, at an event held at the Design Council to encourage initial debate on what makes the design industry tick. Lady Wilcox said, “I urge the business community to participate in this call for evidence and help shape the future of design in the UK.” This could not come at a more timely moment following Professor Hargreaves recommendations that this sector of the creative industries had been neglected in the past. “Investment in design in the UK,” said Lady Wilcox, “Contributed £33 billion or 2.4% of the UK’s GDP in 2008.” 

Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID, a panellist at today’s event said, “This is a very encouraging start but it will only be effective if the whole design sector is prepared to contribute, with real evidence and case studies to highlight some of the challenges facing design through IP infringement and Government listens and acts.  This is a huge opportunity for designers to speak out about their IP issues!”

Right, Baroness Wilcox earlier this month following a meeting with ACID Members Dan Black of Black & Blum and Rodney McMahon of Morgan Contract Furniture (also Chairman of BCFA and Honorary President of FIT) together with representatives from BDI.

Macdonald continued, “Innovation happens irrespective of IP rights but designers should demand a robust IP framework from which to achieve growth through ROI, reinforced by a realistic, cost and time effective legal framework to address infringement, with appropriate exemplary damages. Without this, growth will be eroded and jobs threatened. This, alone, would go a long way to discourage those who take the fast track to market by free riding on the back of the UK’s designers who are, undoubtedly, some of the best in the world.”

Design rights are complex. The majority of the UK’s 232,000 designers do not rely on registered rights and have less than 4 employees.  Therefore, it can be too expensive to take legal action, not to mention the debilitating negative effects which make running a small design led business almost impossible in the face of the uncertainty of potential infringement.  More importantly, Britain’s designers do not have the significant benefit that European counterparts have in being able to rely on unfair competition law.

ACID will be working closely and positively alongside the UK IPO to ensure that design’s voice is heard loudly and clearly with the creation of sound policy and tangible actions to support this important part of the economy.

Statement from IPO on 21/9/11

The Government has today issued a ‘call for evidence’ (1.31Mb) in relation to the design sector and launched a supporting online questionnaire/survey aimed at business.

Baroness Wilcox announced the publication of the first phase of research into the use of design rights in the UK. The research shows that the most intensive spenders on design in the UK are business services, manufacturing and construction sectors. Relative to other countries in Europe the UK spends significantly on design related products and services; but there is very low awareness of design rights. The research also found that registered design rights are used mainly in specific business sectors, such as furniture and clothing.

These reports are available via our IP Research area.

The full Government response (402Kb) to the Hargreaves Review, along with the IP International Approach (580Kb) and IP Crime Strategy (413Kb) are available on this website.

  •  ‘Digital Opportunity: A review of intellectual property and growth’ is available on the review website.
  • A full copy of the Government response to the Hargreaves Review is also available on the BIS website .
  • For further information, please contact Dan Palmer on 0207 215 5303 or e-mail 


ACID Accredited Exhibition Organiser logoAccredited Spring & Autumn Fair show organisers emap support ACID IP Steering Group initiative

Following the exciting news that emap’s IP policy is now going to be ramped up after meetings with ACID’s Dids Macdonald on behalf of the Spring & Autumn Fair IP Steering Group, a new layer of Intellectual property (IP) focus is being included in a confirmation letter to all exhibitors when they sign up to either exhibition, that they have responsibility to adhere to ALL emap’s Terms and Conditions. The letter, as well as outlining what evidence will be required to prove IP ownership, will be reminding exhibitors to confirm:

•    They own the intellectual property rights or have the right to market and sell the products on their stand
•    They do not infringe the intellectual property rights of a third party
•    Their products will not be inaccurate, obscene, defamatory or disreputable
•    ‘The Exhibition Organiser’ reserves the right to remove products from stands if it believes they are infringing those of a third party

emap logoWe hope other exhibition organisers will follow the ACID IP Steering Group recommendations to ensure a safer trading environment for exhibitors and to create a stronger message, to those who do not adhere to stringent standards of IP probity, that they will run the risk of their products being removed.

Mike McLintock of 95Percent Ltd who was a prime contributor in one of the emap/ACID meetings said, “Most media has full IP protection so it is outrageous the same is not true of the design industry. Our frustration at being unable to remove a clear copy at the last Spring Fair convinced us to challenge emap to join us in ensuring those that insist on copying pay a high penalty.”

IP Steering Group member, Angus Gardner, on behalf of Caroline Gardner Publishing Ltd. said, “It is a great first step that emap has taken this decision to highlight to companies that they have these obligations with regard to IP integrity.  It would be good to get a similar commitment from them that all the visitors to their shows have similar intent.”

ACID’s CEO Dids Macdonald added, “The exhibition industry is worth big bucks. In the UK it is worth £9.3 billion which is no great surprise because exhibitions and trade fairs are still the most important venues and launch pads for marketing and testing new products and ranges. If exhibition organisers like emap are encouraging innovation as a key market differentiator, there is an onus to communicate a zero tolerance of IP theft to both exhibitors and visitors. Following meetings held over the past 18 months and the submission of draft documents, I am delighted that emap are tangibly supporting the creative industries with a new, revised IP focus. Having worked positively with Spring & Autumn Fairs over the last decade, providing support with the ACID Exhibition Protocol for complaint handling, this is a real USP for all existing and potential exhibitors to their exhibitions.”

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