|Where they agreed|
It knows from the activities of organisations like ACID that design matters and is really important to UK designers, who just hate being copied or even emulated. What is more difficult to understand is why the registration systems are the most neglected part of the IP system. Even the grace period has not helped much. There is, of course, competition from Europe with the Community Design System and there is no doubt that their filing interface is a million times better than the UK one - which is still paper based. Nevertheless for a single design €350 is a lot more than £60.
A UK designer can already access the Hague System since the UK is part of the European Union, which is a member. Hague allows you to file online. It is operated by WIPO but unlike the PCT and Madrid systems for patents and trademarks, Hague goes all the way and gives you design protection, though you may still need to deal with national offices if they have additonal examination issues within 6 months. You can also file and manage your applications online. Now that you can use the system to protect your design in Europe, the USA and Japan, it has become a practical proposition for designers to use. Prior to May 2015 when the US and Japan joined, the scope of protection available beyond the EU had almost no overlap with the real market for exclusively designed products.
The biggest problem I have when dealing with clients that are interested in protecting their designs is explaining to them the nature of the representations they are going to need. These images are the essence of what is protected and a simple snapshot, a glossy picture from your catalogue, or even a clip from your production drawings isn't likely to help the judge if you want to enforce the design registration. The judge can't and won't go behind your
Design clients want great value for money. They want certainty. They don't want to engage in discussions about which aspects of their design are significant and whether colour, shading or particular elements of the shape are original or commonplace. They want to evolve and change their designs frequently. They are economical with both funds and time. They are creative and don't mix well with the pedantry of lawyers. Even those who have suffered plagiarism are reluctant to make upfront investments and they prefer the court of public opinion to IPEC. Design collections are typically numerous, frequently refreshed and many designs fall by the wayside before the one classic for which 25 years of protection would be of value is found.
The UK government wants to help and support these people. I applaud them. They may be able to go where the profession cannot. Designers have abandoned lawyers but they cannot abandon the law if they want to manage what they see as plagiarism. I hope that our leading designers like Tom Dixon will stand up and respond to the good Baroness in her efforts to get UK designers to go to the WIPO site and protect their designs both in the UK and possibly in other countries which belong to the system. He briefly flirted with the system in 2011. You can search here.
Certainly if we are going to exit Europe, it's going to be a good idea for the UK to join in its own right. The consultation paper emphasises fee savings but fails to consider how designs need to be represented for effective protection, especially in the US, where refusals may be more likely.
Do you have any design clients left? If so it may be worth responding to this consultation before 10 November 2015. The UK government is doing its very best to assist the creative industries I hope they respond and encourage the UK to sign up.