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Government launches consultation on the designs legal framework

24 July 2012

In the wake of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, the government has now set out its proposals to enhance the UK’s designs legal framework to make the system more accessible for businesses.

The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth referred to the current complexities of the legal framework used by businesses to protect their designs, and the importance of having a proper understanding of the role of designs in the economy. This consultation sets out proposals to help streamline the system and seeks other suggestions for improving the law. 

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said: "The government is committed to ensuring that UK businesses have the best environment for growth. Part of that is ensuring that the designs legal framework is as easy to use as possible. We have listened to views expressed in last year's call for evidence and we welcome feedback on these new proposals."

The Government is consulting on the following proposals:

- improving the enforcement regime to promote better understanding of rights held by others and to help avoid disputes
- resolving uncertainties around the scope of protection
- simplifying the laws relating to the ownership of and qualification for design right
- improving the provision of information about design
- enabling UK designs owners to be more selective about which countries they seek international registration for.

The Consultation on the Reform of the UK Designs Legal Framework will run for ten weeks and concludes on 2 October 2012.

The Intellectual Property Office has also published new research into the importance of design to the UK economy and how businesses protect their work. The first report considers the use of the legal framework. It finds that protecting and monetising products and services can be expensive, with unpredictable results. There also seems to be a mismatch between the courts’ and the users’ view of the scope of protection.

The second report considers design in the international supply chain. The report finds that design is usually exported directly rather than being supplied to third parties to manufacture and export. The report also finds that design exports tend to go to other developed economies, not to low cost manufacturing economies like East Asia.

The Development of Design Law - Past and Future’ is available here, and UK Design as a global Industry’ is available here.

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