The team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge, Stephen Jones, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Hayleigh Bosher, Tian Lu and Cecilia Sbrolli.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Event Report: Combat the Copycats

Anyway up Kat
This little Kat is pleased to be back in London to take full advantage of the many IP events. (Keep up to date with our forthcoming events page here). Last week she had the pleasure of attending Combat the Copycats, an event organised by the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) and City, University of London as a fringe event to Clerkenwell Design Week. (A celebration of design and innovation in Clerkenwell involving 250 exhibitors,  more than 90 showrooms, 10 installations and 7 exhibitions).

The event was opened by Mandy Haberman (Vice chair at IPAN and inventor/entrepreneur), who talked about the Anywayup cup [a seminal patent case for any IP enthusiast] from her personal perspective. Mandy described how she successfully defended her IP rights and subsequently sold over 40 million cups worldwide! You can read the full details here.

This was followed by a real-life story of an IP 'close shave' from the perspective of Industrial Designer Pete Coding (Design director at Future Nova).  Pete told how he was inspired by The bathroom by Alexander Kira to design a squat toilet, the ‘Le Penseur’, aimed at the western market as part of his final year MA project. The innovative idea led Pete to give a Tedx talk and was subsequently hired by Dyson. It wasn’t until he later decided to move forward with the product, that he realised he hadn’t thought about his IP rights. After receiving legal advice he registered the design himself. Pete said that IP protection enabled him to obtain funding support to develop his design.

The rest of the event was separated into two sections: Firstly, how lawyers can help designers, presented by Professor David Musker (Queen Mary University of London) and William Miles (Solicitor at Briffa). William provided an overview of copyright, design rights and registered designs rights, in particular pointing to 4 helpful action points for managing IP rights: identify, protect, exploit and enforce. Most interestingly, he talked about one of Briffa’s well known clients - the owner of the Trunki suitcase [another classic IP case, reported by IPKat here]. As readers may remember, the Trunki was unsuccessful on the BBC entrepreneur series Dragon Den because the ‘dragons’ thought that the product would be too easily copied. Nevertheless, the designer registered the black and white design of the suitcase, but when the product was copied he lost the case on Appeal. William pointed out that the designer only registered the black and white image of the suitcase and not the drawing.
The speakers and organisers of the event

David added further discussion on design rights and some interesting thoughts on the relationship between lawyers and designers. He suggested that whilst designers think synthetically, lawyers think analytically and as a result they don’t always understand each other’s perspectives. David also spoke of the benefits of patenting, other than the obvious licencing options, as it can legitimise a designers product, encourage investment and have tax benefits. He brought along the example of the Wolffepack backpack which is lowerable and swingable - with a lovely story that you can read about here.

The final part of the afternoon focused on how designers can help themselves. Professor Ruth Soetendorp (IPAN Education Group convenor and Associate Director, Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management, Bournemouth University) discussed confidential information and trade secrets.

Lawrence Smith-Higgins (Head of Campaigns and Education at the Intellectual Property Office) talked through a whole range of IP educational resources from the IPO such as cracking ideas which offers educational materials and the UK IPO Youtube channel which hosts a number of IP education videos. The materials aim to raise awareness and encourage respect of IP. 

Finally, Dr Luke McDonagh (City Law School, City, University of London) discussed trade marks and branding, focusing on the importance of trade marks in relation to their purpose and history.

Overall it was a worthwhile event that was interesting from an IP perspective and no doubt helpful for the designers who attended in order to hear more about the practical importance of managing their intellectual property. Clerkenwell Design Week will be back next year, stay tuned here.

Cat photo: las - initially
Speaker photo: Ruth Soetendorp

1 comment:

Dids Macdonald said...

It is great that so many are now waking up to the reality of many lone, micro and SME creators who face significant challenges by copycats intent on taking the fast track to market through copying. Inevitably in the David (SME) & Goliath (often major retailers and manufacturers) scenario we are seeing the might of corporate lawyers who stonewall any legal challenge by SME innovators and perpetuate litigation leaving it almost impossible for a micro designer to continue to write legal letters and actually get to a final Court hearing if they are copied. In our experience, sadly, taking legal action is the luxury of the few so ACID's concentration is on a proactive IP strategy - education & awareness, prevention, deterrence, support when things go wrong and fiercely campaigning for design law reform. Since campaigning for criminal provisions to be introduced for the intentional infringement of a registered design was enshrined in the 2014 IP Act, we have seen a move in the right direction. The fact that individual directors are also liable would seem to have resonated. Ultimately, the message to Government has to be more enforcement support for a sector which punches well above its weight underpinned communicated and articulated CSR - declared IP compliance, ethics and respect.

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