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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Into battle! Will Dids save British design?

That veritable Boudica of British Design, battling Dids Macdonald of ACID (Anti Copying in Design), is at it again. Rather than sit back and watch the invading hordes of infringing products stifle the profitability of the creative but defenceless British design sector, she is taking on the British government itself in an attempt to force it to stiffen its legislative programme with some tough new deterrents -- both civil and criminal.

Dids is currently promoting two new-style Downing Street Petitions, each of which calls upon supporters to sign up en masse in the hope that the government might be persuaded that (i) there is a good economic argument in favour of deterrence of design piracy, that (ii) it is just and proper to hit design pirates where it hurts, or that (iii) there are votes to be won by supporting indigenous designers.

To sign the petitions, you must be a British citizen or resident. The closing date for signatures is 21 April 2010.

The first petition reads as follows: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make changes to the copyright and unregistered design right infringement damages regime to create greater deterrent against IP theft. As Dids explains:

"The design industry is a creative industry and all too often ACID is increasingly aware of the emotional damage suffered by a designer when their designs are copied. This can have an extremely detrimental effect on their future ability and willingness to create new designs. A dissuasive system of damages for IP infringement needs to be created to discourage design theft.
In the recently published Government response to the consultation paper “Law of Damages”, The Ministry of Justice has ignored a Government implementation commitment on all recommendations in the 2006 Gowers Review on intellectual property to improve damages awarded for intellectual property theft. Despite this commitment, the MoJ has failed to address the lack of a deterrent effect within the existing damages regime. Gowers had recommended that the MoJ consult over the creation of such a deterrent function for civil damages awards for IP crime. Clearly, one of the main disincentives to a copier or dealer in copies of pirated goods is the potential remedies available against them should action be brought. Currently there are no criminal sanctions available for design infringement".
The second petition reads: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Create a law which introduces criminal sanctions for design right infringement". Again, Dids explains:
"Design law today has a far greater importance in terms of protecting new designs than it has ever done in the past. The four most copied industries within ACID’s membership are the furniture, textiles, interior accessories and giftware industries. A visit to any major High Street retailer will clearly demonstrate the importance of these sectors of the design industry to the UK economy. ACID is very concerned that there are currently no criminal sanctions whatsoever under the UK unregistered and registered design right, the unregistered or registered Community design. Accordingly anyone dealing in pirated goods that are protected by one of the design rights rather than by copyright or trade marks are at no risk of criminal proceedings being brought against them. Since ACID's formation in 1996, it has seen a huge escalation of copying taking place within the design industry. ACID firmly believes that the introduction of criminal sanctions for design right infringements, will have a significant effect on the reduction of copying and dealings with pirated goods in the UK, consequently strengthening the British design industry".
If you sympathise with these causes, you know what to do! And if you have any friends in the design sector, do please forward this post to them.

3 comments:

Peter Groves said...

Why oh why does it talk about IP theft?

Stephane said...

@ Peter Groves
At a guess, because (i) it's a better sound byte than 'IP infringement' and (ii) it echoes better with the topical debate/newsbytes of "copyright theft" across P2P networks.
Cynically yours,
Steph

Anonymous said...

When I nearly lost my business several times through major retailers infringing my rights I felt it was just as damaging as if they had stolen my wallet with several thousands pounds. I honestly believe that theft is theft whether it is a physical object or the design of a successful product.

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