How does the Intellectual Property Act 2014 affect me and my business?

The Intellectual Property Act 2014 received royal assent in May 2014 and came into force on 1st October 2014 in a bid to modernise UK intellectual property law, most notably design and patent law. It protects businesses’ IP rights in the UK and abroad as it synchronises UK law with that of EU intellectual property law.

The changes were brought about by an independent review into how the UK intellectual property system can better drive growth and innovation, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University.

The Hargreaves review of Intellectual Property and Growth outlined ten recommendations to remove restrictive IP and copyright laws:

  • The IP system should be driven as far as possible by objective evidence
  • The UK must continue to pursue its global IP interests and prioritise achieving a unified EU patent court and system
  • The UK should establish a cross sectoral Digital Copyright Exchange and a framework for cross border copyright licensing
  • Legislate the licensing of orphan works
  • Avoid over regulation of activities which do not prejudice the central objective of copyright, namely the provision of incentives to creators
  • The UK Government should take a leading role in promoting international efforts to reduce backlogs and manage patent applications by “work sharing” with patent offices in other nations
  • The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) should assess the relationship between design rights and innovation, with the aim of establishing a firmer basis for evaluating policy both at a national and European level
  • The UK Government should pursue an integrated approach to IP rights based on enforcement, education and measures to strength and grow legitimate markets and other IP protected fields
  • The IPO should look at new ways of improving the accessibility of the IP system to small firms that need assistance
  • The IPO should be given necessary powers and mandate in law to ensure that it focuses firmly on the central task of ensuring the UK’s IP system promotes innovation and growth via efficient, contestable markets

If you’ve got an original idea but you don’t know how to go about protecting it, our ‘Introduction to Intellectual Property’ workshop will educate you about the basics of UK intellectual property law and the areas of IP that most apply to you and your business.

Amendments to intellectual property design rights

The IPO states that design law is often considered “messy, complex and confusing”. More importantly, small businesses who don’t have the resources to understand invariably lose out.

Subsequently, the Intellectual Property Act 2014 introduces a host of new measures and amendments to UK design law to make it simpler, clearer and more robust.

A summary of the fundamental changes which could affect your business are listed by the IPO as:

  • A new criminal offence for the copying of registered designs
    New sections to 35ZA to C of the Registered Designs Act 1949 make it an offence for a person in the course of a business to intentionally copy a registered design to make an identical product or one that’s immaterially different.

  • Amendments to design ownership in relation to commissioned designs
    When a business commissions a design from a third party, the designer will own the design right rather than the business that’s commissioned the work unless a contract is in place re-assigning the rights

  • Private use of unregistered designs
    The Act introduces a defence for anyone accused of infringing an unregistered design for private or non-commercial acts, experimental purposes, teaching and personal study.

  • Scope of an unregistered design right
    The owner of a UK unregistered design right has the exclusive right to reproduce the design for commercial purposes.

  • An introduction of a Design Opinions Service
    The IPO are planning to introduce a new Design Opinions Service, enabling small firms with limited funds to make an informed decision on how to use and enforce their design rights and avoid infringing the rights of others.

  • New online access to documents relating to registered designs

Amendments to intellectual property patent rights

The Intellectual Property Act 2014 also has implications for UK patent law, simplifying complex areas and making it cheaper and easier for patent holders and third parties to use and defend patents.

A summary of the fundamental changes which could affect your business are listed by the IPO as:

  • Marking patented products with a web address
    Patent holders who have marked their patented product with a web address will benefit from protection against infringement providing that the webpage clearly associates the patent number with that product.

  • Expansion of the Patent Opinions Service
    The IPO expanded the Patent Opinions Service to assess a much wider range of patent disputes. It also provides opinions on Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs).

  • Patents worksharing
    The UK law changed on October 1st 2014 to enable the IPO to send data on unpublished patent applications to other national and regional patent offices.

In summary, the Intellectual Property Act 2014 simplifies design protection for the design sector and makes the IP system more transparent and accessible to UK’s small and medium-sized business community.

Whether you’ve got an invention idea, a new brand name or a potential hit song, it’s essential that you know how to go about protecting your intellectual property. Our ‘Introduction to Intellectual Property’ workshop equips you with everything you need to know about the cornerstones of UK intellectual property: Patents, Trade Marks, Registered Designs and Copyright.

See also

Protecting your ideas

Plan to grow your business

Plan to start your business