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July 4, 2012

Equal rights for design, achieved!

WE DID IT! Equal Rights for Design, achieved! The government is officially proposing to change the law concerning copyright, from 25 years for registered designs to 70 years after the death of the originator, as it is for works of art, literature and music.

This was our original petition… “ELLE Decoration UK petitions the government to afford the discipline of design the same UK copyright protection as is currently granted to works of literature, drama, music, film and art: ie 70 years after the death of the originating author/s. This is in stark contrast to design, where registered works are currently covered for only 25 years from date of issue. We ask, why is design seemingly deemed less worthy of protection? Additionally, the hypocrisy of our copyright laws promotes the UK as a default “safe harbour” for copyists, manufacturers producing cut-price fakes of classic designs. We believe this amounts to UK-endorsed intellectual property theft. If the government stands by Chancellor George Osborne’s stated desire for ‘the words: “made in Britain”, “created in Britain”, “designed in Britain”, “invented in Britain”, to drive our nation forward’, then we see no impediment to immediate ratification of this e-petition.”

Presenting his bill to government, Vince Cable pledged to make Britain “one of the most enterprise-friendly countries in the world,” continuing, “We want to make sure the right conditions are in place to encourage investment and exports, boost enterprise, support green growth and build a responsible business culture.”

As such, on the Cabinet Office website, it lists the bill, currently making its way through the Houses [this bill received Royal Assent, ie passed into statute on 25 April 2013], as having the following effect… “Subject to the will of Parliament, the Bill will deliver legislation aimed at encouraging long term growth by: Deterring the importation and sale of unauthorised replicas of classic designs which qualify for copyright protection and extending copyright protection for mass-produced artistic works to life of the creator plus 70 years. These measures will promote innovation in the design industry and encourage investment in new products, while discouraging unauthorised copies.”

The Design Council issued an official press release on behalf of the Business Secretary as follows: “The government has announced that copyright in designs which qualify for copyright protection is to be enforceable beyond the current 25 years to a term of ‘life of the creator plus 70 years’. Under the new measures, ‘artistic’ designs of manufactured goods (for example certain furniture, lamps and jewellery) created before 1987 may now be protected from unauthorised copying under copyright law.

The changes are part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Bill, recently announced by the Government. The Bill will repeal section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which currently restricts copyright to 25 years (calculated from the date on which the work is first placed on the market) on artistic works which are exploited through an industrial process. In practice, this means that owners of any copyrights in classic designs will be able to use copyright law to prevent the sale of unauthorised copies of such designs. Not all works will necessarily be artistic works (and therefore able to be covered by copyright) and the repeal will not apply retrospectively, so retailers will be able to clear any unauthorised existing stock.

The UK had been one of only three Member States (Estonia and Romania) to place a limit on the term of protection for copyright works which are produced through an industrial process, and today’s move will clarify and update the law in line with the rest of the EU.”

“By protecting new designs more generously, we are encouraging more investment of time and talent in British design. That will lead to more manufacturing in Britain, and that in turn will lead to more jobs – which we desperately need right now. Properly protected design can help make the UK a profitable workshop again. We have the creative talent – lets use it.” Sir Terence Conran

“Current copyright laws leave designers woefully under protected compared to similar creative professions. This initiative is a small step toward establishing much needed protection of valuable intellectual property.” Tom Dixon

“As a designer actively pushing boundaries technologically and aesthetically and whose entire life is devoted to enriching industrial design with uniqueness and creative insight, one requires the full support of all authorities, fellow designers, clients, institutions and governments in order to secure copyright and retain the absolute soul of why we design, retaining at all costs our cultural and commercial integrity.” Ross Lovegrove

“I am very happy to hear of these changes that help to recognise the true value of design, which is very encouraging for the design community as a whole. A big thank you to those who championed the cause.” Bethan Gray

“This is great news for the design industry and will bring the UK in line with the rest of the EU. As retailers of genuine modern classic furniture as well as the worldwide licence holders for Eileen Gray designs, we are more aware than most that the market is swamped with a multitude of cheap copies. My hope is that this change will encourage design creativity to flourish once more as UK designers will feel more confident that their intellectual property is protected and that pursuing a career in design is worthwhile.” Ruth Aram, Aram Store

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Writer, Author, Brand Consultant & TV Presenter

Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.