Design contributes heavily to the UK economy — estimates place the value of design to the UK economy at £15bn — yet despite this, design rights are among the most neglected of intellectual property (IP) rights. Indeed, Prof Hargreaves expressed surprise that designs were not explicitly included within the terms of his review of IP, given their economic significance. The view of design rights is generally of a weaker right, which offers a lesser degree of protection than patents, trademarks or copyright.
To some extent, this will be remedied by proposals contained in the recent Queen’s speech for an Intellectual Property Bill. The bill detailed provisions to introduce criminal penalties for the copying of a UK- or Community-registered design. This will bring registered design right into line with copyright protection.
Provisions to further strengthen registered design right include a new opinions process for registered design right, granting similar powers of enforcement to Trading Standards for design offences to those currently in place for copyright and trademarks and powers of forfeiture relating to registered design infringement…
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