Industry article: New industry-based research indicates that “only the wealthiest can afford to protect their designs”

16:08 25 July in Industry News

New industry-based research indicates that “only the wealthiest can afford to protect their designs”

  • A report from Speechly Bircham LLP, Mountainview Learning and University of London finds that industry perceive the current design law as being too expensive and too unpredictable

  • UK design law, or its interpretation, must be altered to provide a consistent, cost effective and intelligible system which can be easily navigated by businesses

  • Recommendations proposed include a “superfast” track for small value design claims and inclusion of industry experts to act as lay assessors during design infringement claims to increase consistency and achieve the twin objectives of limiting costs and increasing the speed towards resolution of claims

LONDON, 24 July wp-content/2012:

New research has laid bare the daunting task and nearly unnavigable landscape ahead of designers and industry when it comes to protecting some of their biggest assets – their designs.

The report into the effectiveness of design law has found that while a high proportion of UK companies (57%) indicated that the majority of their annual sales were generated by innovation in design, the combination of high costs generated by legal actions in the UK, combined with the unpredictability of the outcome of court proceedings, presented a significant barrier to all but the wealthiest of claimants.

In addition, the speed of access to remedies and the ability to remove infringing designs swiftly from the market place were also fundamental considerations for design rights owners.

The report, produced by City law firm Speechly Bircham LLP and research specialists Mountainview Learning, in collaboration with the University of London, highlights the procedural shortcomings of UK design law.  The report, which was commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Design Council, following the recommendations in the Hargreaves Review (May 2011), aimed to explore the effectiveness of UK design law. The research looked to industry to gain an understanding of its perceptions of the current design law system and the key factors that the design community considers paramount in the advancement of its business.

The report clearly identifies the need for the design legal system to:

  • present a simpler face to the design user, so it is clearer to designers and industry how to use the system to their advantage;
  • reduce legal costs, which are high in relation to rights values;
  • improve the speed of resolving conflict, especially for small businesses and independent designers; and
  • improve the certainty of outcomes to disputes and ensure that design issues are properly reflected in judgments.

The report also suggests administrative changes which would help deliver these important user needs.
Alexander Carter-Silk, Partner at Speechly Bircham LLP, commented:

“Throughout history, the protection of intellectual property and ‘design’ has responded to changes in industry, the economic pressures of particular market segments according to their economic strength and the given socio-political conditions prevailing at the time.  As a result, the law concerning design today exists as an array of various rights, which are often viewed as being unnecessarily complex and incomprehensible to design rights owners.

UK design law has now reached a critical juncture. In order to strengthen the contribution made to the UK’s economy through design and innovation and for the UK to remain competitive, UK design law must recognise the economic value of aesthetics by providing a consistent, cost effective and intelligible system which businesses can easily navigate to protect their design rights.

We hope that our findings will go some way to influencing Government policy in this area, thereby helping to protect UK businesses – whatever their size.”

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Lewiston, Solicitor, Speechly Bircham LLP: 020 7427 6585/ [email protected]
Helen Cox, Press Office, Speechly Bircham LLP: 020 7427 6753/ [email protected]
Emma Pickering, Press Office, Spada: 020 7269 1430/ [email protected]

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