Copyright law changes could bring “significant” benefits for designers

Changes to copyright law in the UK could have a “significant benefical impact on designers” according to an intellectual property expert.

Changes to copyright law in the UK could have a “significant benefical impact on designers” according to an intellectual property expert.

Lee Curtis, partner and trade mark attorney at lP law firm HGF, says the Government announcement that it will extend copyright protection on “mass-produced” artworks could bring benefits for furniture and fabric designers, as well as those in other sectors.

The Government has announced that it will increase the copyright protection on mass-produced artistic works beyond the existing 25 years, bringing it into line with the standard term for all other types of copyright works – lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

As it stands Section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 states that copyright protection for artistic works is limited to 25 years if they have been mass produced. “Mass produced” is defined as at least 50 copies having been made.

The act was repealed on 23 April 2013 but it is only now that the act has been honed and a date has been set for its introduction: 6 April 2020.

“Artistic works” is a broad church and could theoretically cover design sectors such as furniture, where pieces are generally replicated for manufacturing.

Curtis says: “The repeal of Section 52 of CDPA could have a significant beneficial impact on designers, given that extended copyright protection will apply to many forms of ‘artistic works’ to which it did not previously apply. Sectors where there could be major impacts include the replica industry, furniture sector and fabric design, but the changes could have much more wide ranging impacts.”

Curtis says that the relatively long transitional period of five years before the repeal comes into force has been set “so that certain sectors of industry can adjust to the new changes” and adds that the transitional provisions effectively means that people can “sell off and trade in articles produced before the implementation of the repeal on 6th April 2020”.

The Intellectual Property Office has published an in-depth look at the new guidelines.

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