Attire Accessories - Mar/Apr 2018 (Issue 69)

ACID’s CEO Dids Macdonald discusses how to promote design originality and the importance of copyright protection There is always a buzz around spring with an abundance of fresh new ideas emerging from revived inspiration! Maybe it’s the prospect of leaving those January blues behind! But how do you protect new designs from the competition and reap the benefits if an idea actually comes to marketplace? Difficult, but downloading a little common sense and becoming “IP savvy” could make that precious difference! Imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you your livelihood. Creative skill, talent, research and development take time and budget so it is important that design originators see the fruits of their investment. So here are a few tips to ensure that you think about your intellectual property and use it to leverage growth and all important sales. Most companies in this sector are lone, micro and SME so education, awareness, prevention and deterrence should be the cornerstones of your approach to design protection. We are here to help the good guys defeat the bad and also promote design originality as a real route to growth – for the creator, not design thieves! To support this, we also shout loudly about copying with our new ‘Spot the Difference’ initiative on social media. Handy tips • Registered Design Rights Design registration is an obvious answer to design protection and enforcement. A UK or EU registered design is a monopoly right lasting 25 years. So hurry now and Brexit-proof your designs because if you have a registered EU design with protection in 28 member states the Government has committed to providing similar protection post Brexit. You can register a design so long as it is basically different to anything already on the market, i.e., that it has distinctive character, that it hasn’t been copied from another design and it is not obscene. • Registered Designs Many find that they cannot afford to register their designs. Whilst registration is inexpensive, legal costs to ensure your registration can be relied on add up and then you have to legally pursue a claim if your designs are stolen. But having a registered design does have a deterrent factor if you publicise that you have one and show the number. • Unregistered Design Rights – are created automatically. So, if you are relying on unregistered rights (copyright & design right), consider sending them to the ACID IP Databank to provide that all important audit trail of IP ownership – each lodgement has unique tamper proof numbers and you can also download a certificate endorsed by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Dated, independent evidence held by a 3 rd party – Anti Copying in Design (ACID). • Trade Marks The more you build up a reputation under your own name or a company name the wiser it is to register it as a trade mark.This is very useful as a tangible asset should you ever need to sell the business or persuade potential investors that there is value in your brand name for a loan, maybe. • Agreements – having the right sort of agreements in place for collaborative design or contracts is a must. Relying on the small print if things go wrong can be the fast track to a quick result so clarifying IP ownership from the outset is critical. IP isn’t rocket science so take some time to know the laws that protect your particular design discipline. Understand the myths! For example many still think that a copy occurs when there is a percentage change or a specific number of changes made to an original; the legal test is when an alleged copy creates sufficient differences on the informed user. Ultimately, a judge will legally determine but you don’t even want to go there for obvious reasons. • Prevention &Deterrence – if you don’t want to be copied, say so! There is no better way than a simple statement on your website, such as “ All IP rights in our designs, product and website are and will remain the property of (insert your name). Any infringement will be pursued seriously.” And publishing a dedicated page on your website communicating an anti copying message makes sense. Shout loudly about the value of what you create. After all, imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you your business. ACID’s next article will be about what to do if you are copied and what action you should take. A How to protect your ideas from design thieves ACID 90 ATTIRE