Anti-Copying in Design
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - EXHIBITION TIPS
Discovering a copy of one of your products at an Exhibition or Fair can be traumatic but it is important to remember that careful handling at this stage can lead to the swiftest and most satisfactory outcome. Tempting though it is to march straight onto the alleged infringer's stand demanding to know what's going on, DON'T DO IT - instead follow the ACID (Anti Copying In Design) guidelines summarised below:
BEFORE ATTENDING ANY EXHIBITION
1. EXHIBITORS SHOULD ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE DOCUMENTATION TO PROVE THAT THEY OWN THE COPYRIGHT/DESIGN RIGHT OR HAVE A LICENCE TO MARKET THE GOODS THAT APPEAR ON THEIR STANDS AT EXHIBITIONS. ENSURE THAT THIS INFORMATION IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE. IN ANY DISPUTE THE ONUS IS ON THE COMPLAINANT TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF OWNERSHIP, ORIGINALITY AND DATE OF CREATION.
2. Important changes to the way designs are protected throughout Europe have been made to help improve the ease with which designers can protect and enforce the rights in their designs. The Community Design provides designers with the choice of both an Unregistered Community design (UCD) and a registered Community design right (RCD). One application for a RCD will provide effective protection for up to 25 years in every EU Member State. ACID's advice is to ensure that these registrations are in place before an exhibition. It is very difficult to take action at an exhibition or fair if there is no design audit trail or evidence to support UCD or a registration certificate available to support RCD. Applications can be made direct to email; firstname.lastname@example.org (https://oami.europa.eu/ohimportal/en)
3. The benefits of the Registered Community Design include giving the exclusive right to use the design in commerce and to take legal action against infringers and to claim damages. It serves as a deterrent against infringement. It is a rapidly obtained right with few formalities. It is a right valid throughout the EU market and it is a protection that allows you to:
a) Forbid unauthorized production of your design in all the EU countries
b) To stop imports into the EU at all possible entry points
4. If you are a member of ACID always display your ACID EXHIBITION STAND SIGN - deterrence is a key weapon. Make sure any product literature bears the ACID logo and if you are planning to send original samples to a potential buyer, manufacturer or retailer, make sure you send them with a Licence Agreement and ACID Licence Tape.
If you are copied:
STEP 1: If you think you have been copie - ensure you have the evidence to prove that you own the rights to the design.
STEP 2: If possible; try to ask a colleague to obtain a sample/brochure or illustration of the product. DO NOT MAKE ANY ALLEGATIONS OF COPYING.
STEP 3: Inform the Exhibition Organisers and explain the problem. The Exhibition Organiser can act as an independent witness though it is important to remember this is their only role. THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FACT THAT THERE IS AN ALLEGED INFRINGEMENT.
STEP 4: Approach the alleged infringer with an Exhibition Organiser's representative and request a meeting. Don't agree to any sort of settlement offer until you have spoken to a solicitor, preferably an intellectual property specialist. Simply listen and record what the other party has to say.
STEP 5: If no settlement can be reached, arrange with your legal representative for a letter before action and a form of undertakings (or any alternative way of proceeding) to be prepared and sent to the alleged infringer.
STEP 6: Your solicitor may then arrange service of any letter before action on the alleged infringer addressed to the alleged infringer and a copy posted to their premises. Alternatively, in urgent cases, it may be necessary to apply to the Court for an Order requiring the immediate removal of the infringing products.
ACID (Anti Copying In Design) was set up as an action group by designers for designers in 1996. It is a non-profit making organisation and it is a company limited by guarantee. The organisation was formed to combat the growing trend of design theft. By helping designers/manufacturers to understand and protect their rights, ACID is intent on stamping out rights abuse. ACID also provides an accessible, practical framework for those who believe that their IP rights have been infringed. The organisation has over one thousand three hundred member companies from all design disciplines. Key benefits include access to a specialist legal hotline for initial, free advice and use of the ACID Design Register to provide independent evidential proof of a design's creation and the date it was created, if relying on Unregistered Rights. ACID's logo, a registered trade mark, is recognised pan-industry as a strong brand of deterrence - members may use it on marketing material, websites, product labelling, etc., to communicate a strong message that they understand the value of their intellectual property rights and they will assert the rights in the products they have created.
ACID (Anti Copying In Design) PO Box 5078, Gloucester Central, Gloucestershire GL19 3YB
Membership Hotline 01531 650476 email: email@example.com www.acid.uk.com
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