Designers urge UK Government to consider copyright protection post-Brexit

Organisation Anti-Copying in Design (ACID) has urged Government to create new laws which will better protect designers’ work once the UK loses access to EU laws.

Kids' suitcase brand Trunki lost an appeal this year where they claimed another brand had copied their product. © Magmatic Limited
Kids’ suitcase brand Trunki lost an appeal this year where they claimed another brand had copied their product. © Magmatic Limited

Copyright in design group ACID has urged the UK Government to put protection of unique designs at the top of its to-do list following Brexit.


Anti-Copying in Design (ACID) has launched the campaign Brexit Design Rights – a United Voice is a Strong Voice, which aims to raise awareness of the changes to intellectual property and copyright law that could impact UK designers following the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Dids MacDonald, founder at ACID, met MPs this week to spell out the organisation’s recommendations for how to continue to protect designers’ work once Brexit happens.

The group had two main recommendations. The first was that the UK Government should introduce a new unregistered design right which better reflects EU law.

UK unregistered design rights “weak”

“If we lose EU unregistered design rights, the UK equivalent is much weaker,” says MacDonald.

The majority of the UK’s 350,000 designers rely on unregistered UK and EU design rights, according to ACID. Unregistered design rights in the UK only offer design protection for structural elements of a design, such as shape and configuration, but EU unregistered design rights also protect aesthetic elements such as colour, surface decoration and texture.

UK-created designs could lose the right to protect surface decoration when the UK leaves the EU.

Effect “could be calamitous”

They could also lose protection in the 27 other EU member states, which “could be calamitous”, says MacDonald, as it increases chances of fake, “knock-off” products coming into the EU market.

The second recommendation was a push for criminal prosecution for the intentional infringement of designs protected by unregistered rights.

“Design must not be further eroded by unlawful copying,” says MacDonald, adding that design currently contributes £71.4 bn to the UK economy.

ACID is looking for support for its Brexit Design Rights campaign, and urges designers and manufacturers to email to register their support or share their thoughts.

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