16 January 2019

Protecting your Designs: is it worthwhile challenging infringers?

The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) recently published a report  on design infringement in the UK.  This report not only explores the attitude to design rights in the UK, but also the perceived level of design infringement across the UK’s design industry, and the impact of design infringement on businesses.

Copycat Crisis

The report highlights that a staggering 98.3% of designers believe that they have experienced some level of infringement of their designs, and subsequently suffered estimated financial losses of between £5000 and £500,000.

However, despite the almost inevitable negative commercial impact of infringement on their businesses, fewer than 10% of designers actually attempted to defend their designs.

In circumstances where an infringer was challenged, issuing a letter to the infringing party was the most common response, as it was found to be a simple, inexpensive and effective method of addressing design infringement, with most infringers ceasing their infringing activity when challenged.

So why the disconnect? If designers are plagued by copycats, and a simple letter can prevent these infringements from happening, why are designers not taking action?

Common Misconceptions

You can’t protect designs.

Research shows that awareness of design rights is generally lower than that of other intellectual property rights such as copyright, patents and trade marks, BUT designs can indeed be protected.  From consumer products and packaging to logos, patterns, typefaces, graphical user interfaces and colour schemes, there is very little that cannot be protected by filing a Registered Design.

It’s expensive to protect designs.

Filing registered designs to protect designs is in fact a relatively simple and inexpensive process.  Plus, under the UK and European Registered Design systems, it is possible to protect several designs in one ‘multi-part’ application where the cost per design reduces as the number of designs included in the filing increases.

Challenging an infringer is costly.

The UKIPO’s research has shown that often simply issuing a letter to the infringer was effective and inexpensive, and often resulted in most infringers ceasing infringement when challenged.

Don’t be part of the 98.3%. 

If you need help protecting or enforcing your designs, get in touch with our Designs team.