The UK has one of the richest design heritages in the world. From the Routemaster Double Decker Bus to Colossus, the world’s first programmable, digital computer, Britain has always prided itself on its approach to game-changing design. But, obviously, without adequate protection for innovators’ design rights, this heritage could be seriously undermined, which is why it’s good news the government has proposed new measures to update registered design rights for the digital age.
Under the current system, designers have the option of marking a product with registered design numbers to show it is protected IP, which means that those infringing on the rights cannot claim they didn’t know the design is protected. However, this can be highly problematic as it is common for multiple rights to exist within the same product that might lapse at different times, meaning designers may have to repeatedly remark products, something that can prove to be prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, the government has proposed a new solution.
Announced at the headquarters of Dyson by intellectual property minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the new ‘virtual marking’ measures will allow designers to mark their products with a web link instead of registered design numbers. By visiting the link, third parties will be able to view all of the registered design rights associated with that product and access up-to-date information as the IP changes.
“Strong IP systems allow innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship to thrive,” said Neville-Rolfe. “We are confident that virtual marking for registered designs will be very warmly welcomed by UK companies for whom design is key to their success.”
Sir James Dyson, founder and chief engineer of Dyson, added: ”Virtual marking will propel intellectual property into the digital age. Next, we need to uphold a culture where inventors resolutely protect their ideas and where the ideas of others are firmly respected.”
The government has opened a public consultation on this subject, which is open until August 10. So if there are any product designers out there wanting input on how best to protect their latest ideas, you better get involved.