The Government says this new legislation ‘will deter those who knowingly copy UK registered designs and will provide greater protection for our hugely important design sector’.
Accidental copying of design, however, will not be criminalised.
Government says the move is equivalent to the copyright system that protects music and the trademarks that protect brands – both of which are also covered by criminal sanctions.
Group Anti-Copying in Design has been lobbying for the introduction of criminal sanctions, saying that it will ‘act as a deterrent and increase protection for holders of registered designs’, as well as ‘better punish perpetrators of blatant design infringement’.
The new bill is also introducing a ‘Design Opinions Service’, which will be run by the Intellectual Property Office. This will provide low-cost, non-binding and impartial advice on potential design disputes.
It also promises to ‘remove red tape and some of the uncertainties for businesses when protecting their designs’. This will see the IPO update its forms and opening hours in order to better meet the needs of customers. It will also publish design documents online so that they can be reviewed more easily.
Lord Younger, Minister for Intellectual Property, says, ‘Continued investment in intellectual property is vital to all businesses, as it contributes £16 billion to the UK economy each year.
‘It is essential that we continue to work hard to create the right environment for them to flourish so we can benefit from their creative designs, inventions and ideas.’
For more information on the new Act, visit www.ipo.gov.uk.