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As ipcopymark has already reported, this week David Willetts has proposed amendments to Clause 13 of the Intellectual Property Bill that are, in IPcopy’s view, a step in the right direction. Hot on the heels of David Willetts’ amendments, Iain Wright has now put forward further amendments. A tracked copy of the proposed changes to Clause 13 is below, with Willetts’ proposals in red, and Wright’s proposals in blue.
Wright’s proposals are an interesting bunch. They expand on the notion that the copying must be deliberate, and bring in a criteria a person commits an offence if he knows that the acts committed would infringe the registered design, or is reckless as to whether they infringe the registered design. However, the proposed amendment to subsection 5 removes the defence that the design right was not infringed, replacing it with the criteria that the defendant reasonably believed that the registered design was not infringed. IPcopy’s view is that it would far preferable to keep both of these defences. There is also a puzzling addition of a new subsection 7A which defines the term ‘design right’ as including an unregistered Community design. Since the term ‘design right’ does not actually appear in this section it is unclear to IPcopy what this new subsection would add. If you have any thoughts, please let us know!
Also worth noting are Wright’s proposed additions to Clause 1 (that within 12 months the Secretary of State will undertake a review as to how these provisions have advanced the design industry in the UK), and Clause 8 (that within 6 months the Secretary of State will report on plans to publicise the law changes with the objective of educating holders of design rights), and a proposed new Section of the Patents Act that would introduce a “Director General of Intellectual Property Rights” with responsibility for, amongst other things, promoting the creation of new IP and educating consumers as to the importance and nature of IP rights.
We’ve written quite a bit about Clause 13 of the Intellectual Property Bill on IPcopy but with the IP Bill now on the verge of its second reading in the Commons the time left to change the Bill is running out. The specific clauses and their wording will be discussed in the Committee stage of the Bill which may occur before Christmas.
It would be my preference for Clause 13 to be deleted in its entirety from the Bill for a number of reasons, one of which is discussed in more detail below. The intention behind the clause is to provide stronger rights for designers which is, of course, a laudable aim. However, I question whether this clause is the correct vehicle for those improved rights. Alternatives such as extending the small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court to hear registered design cases would also enable registered design rights holders to bring cases more cost effectively. ACID themselves appear to have had great success with mediation which is a process that could be formalised and expanded in my view to provide another option to rights holders.
However, instead we have Clause 13 which will make it a criminal offence to copy a design. In this article we’ll look a little more at the forum that such cases will be heard in.
Clause 13 of the Intellectual Property Bill is attracting a fair amount of discussion on both sides of the argument. I thought I’d take a closer look at some of the issues around the clause and what happened before its appearance in the Bill. I must have been in a funny mood when I wrote the post below as its in the style of a totally fictional conversation between a client and his patent attorney. See if you can guess which side of the argument I come down on…… (more…)