Britain has a rich and vibrant heritage of original design and designers. For decades UK designers have been inspired by living and being educated in a country that was the birthplace of the Arts and Crafts Movement and developed such unique talents as Alexander McQueen, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Terence Conran, to name a very few.

UK designers, however, both large and small are presently creating their work in a climate of uncertainty with regard to the security of their designs, with regular anecdotes describing incidents of independent artists having their work copied, often by large manufacturers with a presence on the High St. Relative to other countries in Europe the UK spends significantly on design related products and services; but there is very low awareness of design rights.

It is against this backdrop that ACID (Anti Copying In Design) has welcomed an open invitation to the UK designers from Baroness Wilcox, Minister for Intellectual Property, to shape future IP Design Policy, at an event held at the Design Council to encourage initial debate on what drives and shapes the design industry. Lady Wilcox said, “I urge the business community to participate in this call for evidence and help shape the future of design in the UK." This could not come at a more timely moment following Professor Hargreaves recommendations that this sector of the creative industries had been neglected in the past. “Investment in design in the UK,” said Lady Wilcox, “Contributed £33 billion or 2.4% of the UK’s GDP in 2008.”

Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID and a panellist at the event said, “This is a very encouraging start but it will only be effective if the whole design sector is prepared to contribute, with real evidence and case studies to highlight some of the challenges facing design through IP infringement and Government listens and acts. This is a huge opportunity for designers to speak out about their IP issues!”

Macdonald continued, “Innovation happens irrespective of IP rights but designers should demand a robust IP framework from which to achieve growth through ROI, reinforced by a realistic, cost and time effective legal framework to address infringement, with appropriate exemplary damages. Without this, growth will be eroded and jobs threatened. This, alone, would go a long way to discourage those who take the fast track to market by free riding on the back of the UK’s designers who are, undoubtedly, some of the best in the world.

Design rights are complex. The majority of the UK’s 232,000 designers do not rely on registered rights and have less than 4 employees. Therefore, it can be too expensive to take legal action, not to mention the debilitating negative effects which make running a small design led business almost impossible in the face of the uncertainty of potential infringement. More importantly, Britain’s designers do not have the significant benefit that European counterparts have in being able to rely on unfair competition law.”

ACID will be working closely and positively alongside the UK IPO to ensure that design’s voice is heard loudly and clearly with the creation of sound policy and tangible actions to support this important part of the economy.

The Government has issued a 'call for evidence' in relation to the design sector and launched a supporting online questionnaire/survey aimed at business. Click on the links to have your say!

For further information contact:

Dids Macdonald This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0845 644 3617