By Dennis Crouch
UK has an Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) that is the go-to-agency when considering policy implications of potential changes to the laws. One recent focus of the UKIPO has been industrial design rights and "the extent to which the design industry is properly supported by the Intellectual Property Framework." In a new whitepaper, the agency has released a proposal for amending the law and procedures of UK design rights. The agency takes the following positions:
- Retain Unregistered UK Design Rights (for up to 15 years), however, the unregistered right will be limited to protect only against commercial copying of unique and major elements of a company's product.
- Extend the ownership limitations of Unregistered UK Design Rights to include anyone who carries out business in the EU or markets articles made to the design in the EU. The initial owner of design rights will be the designer – rather than the person who commissioned the design.
- Allow for a 30-month delay in publishing registered design rights.
- Align UK Copyright and Design Rights so that a company with permission to use a UK or EU design right implicitly has permission to use the equivalent UK Copyright.
- Create criminal sanctions for deliberate copying of registered UK designs.
More available here: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/response-2012-designs.pdf
In the US, unregistered design rights are also protectable, but they have to be fit either the Lanham Act, the Copyright Act, or some state law regime (such as Trade Secret or Unfair Competition).