Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO, looks at the biggest IP myths in the design industry

Intellectual property (IP) is quite complicated and surrounded by many myths.

Intellectual property (IP) is quite complicated and surrounded by many myths. Two of the most common myths, thought by copyists to be a defence, are:


-If someone makes seven changes or a certain percentage change to a design it becomes a new design


-Registering designs is useless because if you make one slight percentage change in the design the registration is invalid.


Those who alter designs by making a few changes and think they're creating new designs could be in for a very sharp shock and land on the wrong side of the law. The good news is that designers are getting more IP aware than ever to protect their original designs. Some people also think that if they change a design or artwork by a percentage it becomes a new design, but this is wrong. It's neither the number nor percentage of changes that somebody makes to your design. It's the importance of the elements which have been taken from your design that is used in deciding whether your rights have been infringed. This will always vary from case to case.


Some people also believe that registering designs is useless because if you make one slight percentage change in the design the registration is invalid. This is also not the case. The test for whether a design infringes a registered design is whether it creates a different overall impression as the registered design on the informed user. It's not simply about counting the number of elements of the design which have been reproduced or changes that have been made to it.


It's also a commonly held IP myth that you can register Copyright but in actual fact you can't. In the UK, Copyright arises automatically upon the creation of a new and original work in a tangible form (e.g. a design drawing or greeting card); there is no requirement for registration. Copyright protects written or published works such as books, songs, films, web content and artistic works.


Known as the "poor man's copyright", posting a copy of your work to yourself is not a reliable method for proving origination either. The reason is that the method can be easily faked and manipulated. For example, an empty and unsealed envelope can be posted and the work sealed inside at a later date to give the impression it was created earlier. It's unlikely this evidence would stand up in Court.
The best way to deal with origination issues is to ensure all stages of design development that go into the creation of a work are signed by the author, and dated, then stored in a safe place. Such documentation could include sketches, drafts, plans etc. However, once the work's complete, filing a copy of the work with a recognised third party such as a solicitor, bank or independent organisation will help provide evidence of a latest possible date of creation.


ACID offer such a service through the ACID Design Databank. Approximately 25,000 designs per year are logged with ACID. This does not add to unregistered rights such as Copyright or design right but provides the all-important, third party evidence of the design(s) existence on the date of receipt. Strong evidence, should it ever be required, to prove your design origination.


To find out more, visit www.acid.uk.com

Joe Davies (Manchester) Ltd
Gift Focus Magazine
Hale Events
HITF Ltd