After representations by a number of bodies representing Intellectual Property professionals, the IP Bill has recently been amended to clarify the scope of the proposed criminal offence of copying of registered designs to make it clear that the criminal offence targets deliberate copyists and close copies. The government has also listened to the concerns of IP professionals (including the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and the IP Federation) and resisted calls to extend the proposed criminal offence to copying of unregistered designs.
I was a member of the CIPA team who made representations to the UK Intellectual Property Office Bill team and government and am pleased that they listened to the concerns of users of the Intellectual Property system. The government, as is its prerogative, did not address all our concerns but policy inevitably involves drawing lines others might disagree with. The latest amendments to the definition of the proposed criminal offence appear to address some of the previously expressed concerns that the criminal offence might be so broadly drawn that unobjectionable behaviour would risk a 10 year jail term.
The proposed criminalisation will further strengthen the hand of those who own registered designs. Registered designs are, in my opinion, an under-used Cinderella of the IP rights world so any strengthening of the rights awarded them may encourage greater take-up of what are, in the UK and European Union (EU) at least, cheap rights granted very quickly. EU registered designs are typically granted in days.
The UK IP Bill completed its second reading in the House of Commons on 21 January and the subsequent committee stage on 30 April. The most controversial part of the Bill relates to the proposal to criminalise the copying of registered designs although the IP Bill also includes measures intended to simply and clarify aspects of design law, allow for the implementation of the Unified Patent Court and set up a Designs opinion service similar to the existing Patents Opinion service. More information on the IP Bill is available from the UK Intellectual Property Office website.
The IP Bill will now proceed to the Report stage. It is likely that further amendments will be proposed (including another attempt to criminalise the copying of unregistered designs) at the Report stage as a number of amendments were proposed and then withdrawn to avoid delays during the Committee stage.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.