The Intellectual Property Act 2014 (the Act) will start to come into force on 1st October 2014. The Act seeks to modernise and simplify Intellectual Property law and introduces a number of changes, particularly to UK design law and practice largely as a result of the 2011 Hargreaves Independent Review of IP & Growth.
We have outlined some of the key facts below:
Intentional copying is now a criminal offence
One of the main changes relating to design law is that intentional copying of a UK or European Community registered design will now be a criminal offence. The “infringer” must be aware or have reasonable grounds to suppose that the design in question is registered and so there is an increased importance to indicate the existence of IP rights on products. The maximum penalty for infringement will be 10 years imprisonment or a fine.
The designer owns the rights for commissioned works unless by prior written agreement
Another important change which seeks to bring UK design law into harmony with European Community design law relates to commissioned designs and ownership. The change ensures that, unless there is an agreement to the contrary in place, the actual designer will be the owner of a design created under commission rather than the commissioner. It is therefore important to make sure that written agreements are in place before a design is commissioned to establish clear ownership.
New Design Opinion Service from IPO
Several further design law changes include a new Design Opinion Service operated by the Intellectual Property Office and the implementation of defences to infringement of a UK unregistered design.
Make sure people know your rights exist
In order to recover damages in patent and design infringements it is important that enough information is provided so that an infringing party cannot claim to be unaware that a patent or registered exists. To ensure that an infringing party is aware of existing rights, the patent or registration numbers and the country where the right exists must also be indicated.
In this regard, the Act now stipulates that it is sufficient to provide a web address on the product allowing the relevant information to be accessed online.
Act paves the way for implementation of Unitary Patent Court Agreement
So far as patent law is concerned the Act will enable the UK to implement to Unitary Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) for the introduction of a unitary patent covering all member states of the European Union. The implementation of a unitary patent in due course is likely to have a significant positive impact on the costs and procedural efficiency of obtaining protection throughout the EU.
Further patent law changes include expansion of the IPO Patent Opinion Service to consider a range of validity issues not solely limited to novelty and inventiveness and the power for the Comptroller of patents to revoke a patent on his own initiative if an Opinion finds a patent to lack novelty or inventiveness.
For more information concerning the IP act 2014 and how this could have an impact on your business please contact us.
Author: Caroline Ward