British Fashion in the Global Marketplace by Dids Macdonald CEO of ACID
Last night in Westminster, there was a thought-provoking parliamentary debate supported by Pete Wishart, MP., Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for IP and Dr Lisa Cameron, MP., Chairman of the APPG for Fashion and Apparel. Delegates were united in one thing, that the protection of our precious and seismic fashion industry is paramount post Brexit deal or no deal and establishing ongoing dialogue with our European trade partners is critical.
Dids Macdonald, CEO of ACID had the following messages to attendees:
“Before the referendum, the BFC conducted a survey and 90% wanted to remain, the Creative Industries survey indicated 96% the same so it is crystal clear that we need to be continuing to do business with our European partners and positively engaging to consolidate our relationships. We may be leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe!”
How can we both enhance and protect our world leading fashion industry? “Design punches well above its weight contributing 85.2 billion to the UK economy and fashion is a significant contributor at 32 billion (5.4% increase). Design and design skills provide 1.5 jobs. Therefore, Design matters. I think we should remember though that most are micro and SME and have special challenges especially through copying. We need to ensure that there is an IP legal regime which is secure and reliable to give businesses the confidence to invest – cost & timely access to redress is an essential part of this. WE also need to gather momentum and engage with the Department of International Trade to ensure that this message is firmly communicated through the various sector meetings – for example the Alliance for IP will be hosting one early in the NY.”
We need to galvanise forces within the sector to ensure fashion and design generally are at the forefront in global trade negotiations through DIT and DeEXU
On education – Dids endorsed the British Fashion Council’s focus on diversity of careers available. Inspiring teenagers nationwide; Organising industry-focused events, pursuing higher education, developing apprenticeship alternatives, offering graduate traineeships at British fashion houses. Encouraging business and investment opportunities, reputation – telling the stories, positive best practice, putting innovation & digital as a strong partnership with consistent engagement with Government on the importance of fashion to the UK economy & the all-important intellectual capital which underpins it
Global online infringement is increasing, and it is critical that there are ongoing discussions with social media providers, search engines and advertising platforms to encourage self-regulation, IP compliance and easy to access routes for redress. So, we hope that this is translated via evidence from the ‘Round Tables’ into the Industrial Strategy where IP is still just referred to as copyright
Imitation isn’t flattery when it costs you your business. I nearly lost my business through blatant IP theft several times so…..
Becoming IP savvy, knowing the laws, creating a practical and proactive IP strategy. Basically, if you don’t want people to copy you say so. There is no better place than your website and marketing material. Knowledge gives strength. Designers need to value their creative talent and capacity to innovate
Encourage compliance, respect and ethics in our own backyard!
Is Brexit a threat or an opportunity for design IP? “We recently carried out a survey and 100% were concerned about IP rights post Brexit, 90% said that infringement was blatant and intentional and 78% said they rely on unregistered EU and UK design rights.
This will be potentially calamitous for UK designers, the majority of whom rely on unregistered EU and UK designs.”
When the UK leaves the EU:
It will no longer be possible for UK designers, whose designs are first exhibited in the UK, to claim the EU unregistered design right protection in the other 27 member states of the EU
This is because in order for the EU right to come into being in the first place, this first publication / exhibiting must have taken place in an EU member state
As from 1 April 2019 the UK will not be an EU member state. But this doesn’t mean we cannot strengthen our EU relations!
Unregistered EU design is a stronger right protecting colour, texture, lines, contours, ornamentation, materials, shape.
So, for example, if a fashion designer’s new (unregistered) designs are first seen on a UK catwalk, they will lose the ability to claim protection in 27 EU states unless there is simultaneous protection. For example, show new designs at 3pm and then at 3.01 in EU. Will they have protection in 27 member states. Clear unequivocal guidance essential – factual or legal. Government made a commitment that there would be no loss of IP rights post-Brexit, and our concern is that time is running out.
ACID believes the (IP) threats outweigh opportunities
Fashion related – general issue, 3D protection of any design only available by design laws (except for sculptural or works of artistic craftsmanship) which has never been legally determined. NOT protected by copyright unless a pattern – Designers Guild and Washington DC.
ACID presented evidence to Government 19 months ago and there is still no clarity. We asked the IPO CEO Tim Moss only last month and there is still no clear guidance. ACID, with IPO help, is currently trying to ascertain the legality of simultaneous publication using an EU version of our online Marketplace
On a more general note – design is the poor cousin in the IP family and Brexit will make it even more complicated.
What can fashion designers and businesses do now to prepare?
If budget allows, Brexit proof trademarks and registered designs before March! Because we are assured that there will be reciprocity between EU and UK on registered rights within the Withdrawal Bill.
But on the position of unregistered EU rights it is potentially devastating. Yes, the UK Government has responded to our campaign and assured us that there will be a new unregistered UK design right with equivalent protection to the current community unregistered design right but losing protection in 27 member states will make UK designers vulnerable.
We might leave with a trade deal in place, we might not. There might be a transition period, there might not. But one thing is certain, now is the time to start preparing yourself for B-Day and what better way to do this than by attending a talk about how your intellectual property rights might be affected by the biggest political event of a generation?
On 6th December we will co-host a breakfast talk with our legal affiliates Briffa aimed at future proofing IP rights post Breakfast. Find out further information about attending here .
In a recent ACID survey, Rob Law, MBE., MD of Magmatic t/a Trunki said
“My company Magmatic Ltd T/A Trunki designs and manufactures children’s travel products. We employ 80 people at our Head office in Bristol and manufacturing facility in Plymouth. Our turnover is approximately £8.5million, all of which is generated by products protected by registered and unregistered design. If we lose protection of our unregistered rights in 27-member states, and are unable to enforce our rights, we predict approximately 25% of our sales could be lost. This could effectively quarter our turnover and lose approximately 20% of our workforces.”