Intentional infringement of a registered design is now a crime

Today, 1 October, history is made, a new Intellectual Property Act becomes law and it is now a crime to intentionally infringe a registered design. Individual Board Directors will also be held accountable. The changes which are set out in The Intellectual Property Act have been introduced to:

  • Reduce the scale of registered design infringement by acting as a deterrent
  • Increase protection for the holders of registered designs
  • Better punish perpetrators of blatant design infringement. Individual Directors will also be liable

A registered design has legal protection

BCFA Managing Director Colin Watson welcomes the changes but like other commentators has a view about legislation on unregistered designs. “I does seem eminently sensible to consider further changes to include unregistered designs but success there is not certain and timescales as ACID have experienced could be lengthy. The only sure way to protect designs is registration. Presently only possible via the IPO there is a cost, £60 for the first design and £40 for subsequent designs in a multiple application. A cost and a formal process all companies should consider”

Intentionally infringing a registered design and producing a copy that differs from an original in only immaterial respects now becomes a criminal offence punishable by up to ten years in prison. This is a significant development for designers but for the time being the change in the law will only assist those designers who have registered their designs at either the Intellectual Property Office in England or at the Community Design Office in Alicante. It does not cover unregistered designs.

The ACID (Anti-Copying in Design) campaign, spanning many years, consistently supported by case studies, demonstrated the scale of the problem and the objective was to address a shortfall in laws to protect designers. In 2011 Professor Hargreaves reported that Design and IP had been neglected. Government listened and The Prime Minister put Design and IP law (Ch7) as one of his ten recommendations. Following consultations, it was introduced in the Queen’s Speech in November 2013. Following at times, a tricky route with opponents and, subsequently, through the House of Lords and then House of Commons the Bill received Queen’s Assent on 14th May 2014.

Nick Kounoupias, ACID’s Chief Legal Counsel and a partner at DMH Stallard said, “This is the result of a genuine grass roots campaign and shows what can be done with a well presented case argued with integrity and honesty. Criminal sanctions for Registered design infringement should be seen as evolution not revolution and the proposed changes are sensible and pragmatic. However, we believe that Government should listen again to the powerful arguments for including unregistered designs.”

Rodney McMahon, MD Member Morgan Contract Furniture an ACID and BCFA member said, “Strengthening of IP law can not only serve as a strong deterrent to copying, but also act as a real vehicle for growth, innovation and job certainty for those who create design originality.”

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s Chief Executive commented, “I welcome the fact that the IP Bill is a significant step in the right direction. However, there is still much work to be done because the majority of UK designers rely on unregistered rights. Next step is to persuade Government to include unregistered designs, exemplary damages and unfair competition (At the moment our EU designer counterparts can turn to unfair competition laws if IP laws fail them).”

More Reading

To find out more about what the Act means her are a couple of links. this explains the changes in the Act and there are further links that cover some of the detail. this is an article bt Dids Macdonald that summarises some of the things you should consider as a business.

ACID (Anti Copying In Design) is a membership organisation, committed to raising awareness about intellectual property within the creative industries. Creating a safer trading environment for members is a priority by encouraging respect for intellectual property within corporate social responsibility. By encouraging design talent we help our members protect their livelihoods to maximise grown. ACID’s powerful logo is not only a real symbol of deterrence, but also reflects a positive voice for IP creation.

Contact: Dids Macdonald tel.0845 6443617 e-mail:  web:






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