Proposed punishments for design infringements

As part of its consultation on reforming the design rights framework, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is proposing the introduction of criminal sanctions for infringements.

These would only apply when the individual “had knowledge or reason to believe” that they were infringing a UK Registered Design or a Registered Community Design. UK Unregistered Designs would not be included.

Such sanctions would prevent infringers from escaping liability, as often currently happens, and bring design rights in line with the protection provided by trade mark and copyright laws.

When a design is registered with the IPO, both the two and three-dimensional aspects are protected in the UK for up to 25 years, as long as it is renewed every five years.

Similar protection is available across the EU by registering a Community Design with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). In both cases, the design must be new and have individual character.

In addition to the planned criminal sanctions, the IPO is also proposing a new defence against the infringement of UK Registered Designs. This would enable people to claim the design was used “in good faith and without copying” before the registration was applied for – as is currently available for Registered Community Designs.

Any interested parties have until 2nd October 2012 to comment on the proposals.

At Palmers Solicitors, we can advise on all aspects of design rights and take immediate injunctive action against any infringements. For more information on this or any other intellectual property matter, please contact us.