Recently we had some computer equipment stolen from our office (the thief was soon caught!). But as well as minding our physical security, we also need to watch that no-one is plagiarising our designs. Creations of the mind (ideas, inventions, images, designs and literary work) all fall under the umbrella of Intellectual Property (IP) and are protected in law by patents, copyright and trademarks.
The Intellectual Property Act helps UK businesses protect their IP rights, both in the UK and abroad. The law was recently reviewed and updated with new measures due to be implemented by late 2015.
The act will help to unblock the current global backlog of applications by allowing applicants to file one application with the International Bureau of the World International Property Organisation (WIPO) which protects their designs in multiple countries.
Interestingly (to us!), where a design has been commissioned by a company, the company will not be the default owner of the design, it will belong initially to the designer.
The penalties are pretty stiff too – it will be a criminal offence to copy a design registered in Europe without authorisation and can be punished with a hefty fine and imprisonment of up to ten years although it must be proved that the copying was done intentionally.
Ultimately the updated Act will help to simplify and clarify the design protection process, reduce costs for UK businesses, and improve access to IP protection for small and medium sized companies.