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IP Act 2014 - changes to designs law

On 1st October 2014, most of the remaining provisions of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 will come into force.

Of particular note are the changes that will apply to UK designs law.

These include:

  • The scope of protection for UK unregistered designs will be narrowed, so as to remove the protection given to the design of 'any aspect' (no matter how small or insignificant) of the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article.
  • Design right protection will not apply if a design is commonplace in the design field in question in the UK or elsewhere in the EU.
  • The owner of any unregistered design right or registered design will be the designer, and no longer the commissioner. This amendment will mean that the ownership of unregistered design rights will now align with the position of copyright ownership. Thus, it will now be more important than ever to put in place written agreements with commissioned third parties, whereby they agree to assign to the commissioner all IP rights they create pursuant to the commission.
  • For the first time an innocent infringer of a UK registered design can be held liable to account for his profits to the owner of the design. This now brings the law in line with the situation where a person innocently infringes UK unregistered design right or a Community registered or unregistered design (as, from 1st October 2104, that person can be sued for an account of his profits, but not for damages).
  • The introduction of a new criminal offence where a person deliberately (i.e. intentionally) copies a UK or Community registered design.