On 14 May 2014, the Intellectual Property Act 2014 (Act) received Royal Assent with the Act being gradually implemented into UK law from 1 October 2014 until the end of 2015.
The key changes to be aware of are:
- the Act will make it a criminal offence for anyone to intentionally copy your registered designs in the course of a business;
- innocent infringement of a UK registered design now allows the owner of such design to seek an account of profits from the infringer, although damages are not available;
- designers will own the rights to their designs. This will remain the case even where you have been commissioned to produce the designs (except where a contract is in place which expressly states otherwise);
- patent holders will be able to mark their patented products with an internet link as opposed to with a patent number. However, the internet link must be accessible free of charge and must clearly associate the product with the patent number(s);
- the Act introduces a new voluntary Designs Opinion Service, which will provide a low cost, impartial and non-binding view of potential design disputes. The UK Intellectual Property Office will provide their opinion on matters such as ownership, validity or infringement of a design. This should assist parties in determining the strength of their potential case before incurring hefty costs in pursuing or defending a claim.
The intention of the Act is to simplify and strengthen design protection for the UK’s design sector and to ensure that the UK intellectual property system is operating efficiently.
For more information or to discuss how the changes could impact upon your business, please contact Alex Craig on 0191 211 7911.