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Design protection advice from ACID

Dids MacDonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID), discusses tougher criminal sanctions to protect designers becoming law

After a 15-year long campaign by ACID to strengthen design protection, an Intellectual Property Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and now awaits Queen's Assent.

The ACID campaign for design law reform will now include tougher penalties for intentional registered design infringement, communicating a real deterrent message to those who take the fast track to market by free riding on the backs of others' creativity and innovation.

Clause 13 of the IP Bill will introduce criminal provisions for the intentional copying of a UK or EU registered design. The objective is to reduce the scale of registered design infringement by acting as a deterrent and to increase protection for the holders of registered designs. The introduction of criminal provisions will also better punish perpetrators of blatant and intentional design infringement. Taken together, these measures will help designers and business to better protect and commercialise their design property. Individual directors will also be held accountable and liable if they intentionally copy a registered design. So, those who've hidden behind a strategy of copying will have to ask themselves a serious question, "Do I really want to risk a criminal record if I intend to copy a registered design?"

Registering your designs
Therefore, now couldn't be a better time to consider registering your designs either in the UK with a national registration at, or in the EU at, with a single registration covering 28 member states. Another benefit of the IP Bill is that the UK will become signatories of what's known as the Hague Convention, which means that with one single application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation ( you can protect your designs in approximately 60 different countries.

Some of the benefits of possessing a national, EU or international design registration are:
You have a numbered certificate which effectively says you own the design. A registered UK or EU design attracts a monopoly right, lasting 25 years and renewable every five years.
You don't have to prove copying.
It's more straightforward for an IP lawyer to act on your behalf.
If your registered design right registration number is displayed on product packaging and in your marketing material, it can act as a deterrent against copying.
Having a registered design within your IP portfolio is an asset and can be useful in obtaining funding or grants. It demonstrates to your competitors that you have taken the trouble to register something that you value and should be respected.

In the UK and EU you have a one-year time period from first marketing your new product in which to obtain registration. You therefore have the opportunity to test your product's popularity before registering the design. This is useful to know if budget parameters preclude registration of all your new designs. However, with registration comes cost considerations and so the majority of UK designers rely on unregistered rights; this is where ACID's newly launched Marketplace can play a significant role in a joint design protection and promotion strategy.

ACID's Design Databank, where approximately 25,000 designs are now lodged annually, has developed a further benefit in conjunction with ACID Marketplace, incorporating the same security for members who want the option of promoting designs as that already in place for storing hidden designs. Members can individually invite buyers to view their new product launches or they have the further option of allowing their designs to be on full view to potential design buyers.

Lee Broom, Designer says: "As a company who strives to bring original and exclusive British design to the global marketplace, we're delighted to support ACID's new system launch. Not only does it secure evidence of the creator's ownership, but expands the availability of intelligent ideas to the market and encourages greater access to suitable buyers. I hope the entire industry will support this important endeavour."

"Staying ahead of the market and having new designs to offer is as important for the retailer as it is for us suppliers. If we can give our stockists the edge by enabling them to view upcoming designs without compromising our own position, what's not to like about ACID Marketplace?" says Angus Gardner, Managing Director of Caroline Gardner Publishing Ltd.

By providing a safer trading environment, the design protection element includes the process of design buyers registering their details and agreeing to the ACID Design Buyer's Charter before they can view anything on Marketplace. Each ACID member has their own profile, which contains the results of a tracking system so they can see who has viewed their designs. This is a real positive and additional marketing benefit - a bit like your own exhibition zone but with the added security of knowing exactly who's viewed your designs.

Unregistered UK Design Right
Unregistered UK Design Right arises automatically and applies to original, non-commonplace designs of the shape or configuration of articles, which means that it protects 3D designs but not pattern or ornamentation, which is 2D (they're protected by copyright). EU Community design protects only those designs that could be registered as registered designs - where the appearance of features, including the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials or ornamentation of a product, must be new and have an individual character (it must produce a different overall impression on an informed user to any other existing similar designs). UCD protection lasts three years from the date when the design was first made available to the public in the EU, and protects EU wide (currently 28 member states).

Uploading designs to ACID Marketplace incorporating the ACID Design Data Bank doesn't add to unregistered UK or EU IP rights (designs and copyright) but provides third party evidence of the existence of the design on the date the design was uploaded onto ACID Marketplace.

So, start making your designs work harder for you by adding another marketing platform to promote your products, where potential design buyers can view seasonal or promotional launches and new product ranges. ACID Marketplace provides you with a safer trading platform for your innovative designs, encouraging ethical trading with those who respect design originality.

Further information
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