The Intellectual Property Act 2014

What does it do?

As well as the obvious regulation of intellectual property it apparently simplifies the procedure for protecting 3D designs and puts design rights on the same level as copyright and trademarks.

What are design rights?

Design rights protect original 3D designs, they seek to protect the visual features of a shape, 3D product configuration or ornamentation of a design. They are most commonly used in creative industries and examples of the same are used to protect designs in relation to furniture, footwear, packaging, architecture and a vast array of 3D objects.

They differ from the other IP rights such as trade marks and copyright as trademarks protect mainly a name, a logo or a combination of the two (popular examples include the Coco Cola, Nike and Google marks). Copyright deals with various categories of works including, artistic, literary (including databases) and musical works, there is a degree of overlap between copyright and design rights however copyright arises automatically and has no formal process of registration.

Design rights are particularly important for businesses that are in the process of bringing out a new 3D product particularly if they do not want the outward shape of their product to be copied.

The changes introduced by the IntellectualProperty Act 2004

  • Infringement of a Design right is now a Criminal offence and as well as rights holders taking civil action they can also notify the police regarding fake products.
  • In the past design right litigation was particular costly for rights holders but a new service is set to be introduced by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in the UK that allows a business whose right has been challenged as being ‘unoriginal’, the right to contact the IPO for an opinion on the merits of defending the case before taking the matter to Court.
  • Changes on ownership mean that businesses must be aware that when they commission a designer to create a design, the legal ownership of that design will remain with the creator and not the business that commissioned the work (unless there is an agreement to the contrary).


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