ACID, the trade body concerned with helping designers and manufacturers to protect their intellectual property, explains what can be done to prevent someone ripping off your design – and what action you can take if you find out it’s already happened.
ACID CEO, Dids Macdonald’s said: “Imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you your business. It nearly cost me mine!”
And so she shares her expert advice on how to best protect your intellectual property below, to ensure that you are prepared to protect your designs:
Cross all your T’s and dot every I
If costs permit, make sure you register your designs as comprehensively as possible. UK and EU registration authorities do not examine your registrations, so what you submit is what you have to rely on. So, the more detail you include, the better!
Alternatively, if you can’t afford registration, ACID membership will give you access to a Design Databank through ACID Marketplace which holds over 300,000 designs. This doesn’t add to your design rights but gives independent, dated evidence of the existence of the design.
Sign and date all your work
It sounds simple, but when it comes to proving your design ownership, an audit trail of the detailed journey from idea to the marketplace is compelling. The majority of cases for which ACID members have received settlements are based on strong evidence to support designs. This is whether they are registered or unregistered.
Become IP savvy
Know the intellectual property (IP) laws that protect you, and watch the competition. What’s in a name? Trademark your brand name if you can. The more you build up your reputation either under your own name or one you trade under, the stronger protection you have. Take a look at the IPO website.
Trade more safely
ACID started the UK’s first Designs Exchange, ACID Marketplace, which the Government warmly welcomed. It is a safer trading platform where designers can lodge their work and create positive relationships with design buyers. They can view your latest designs by registering and agreeing to the ACID Design Buyers’ Charter. The good news is that you can track who has viewed them.
Think about IP Insurance. You insure your car and your home, why not your designs and future? ACID also provides an optional IP insurance product for registered and unregistered designs to members.
Do you need an expert opinion?
Often, it is difficult to decide whether your case is strong enough to take legal action. ACID’s specialist team of Legal Affiliates, who are intellectual property experts, can help with an opinion about what is and isn’t protected under unregistered rights.