The Intellectual Property Act 2014 is intended to introduce improvements in design and patent protection in the UK. Key elements of the Act include the following:
• A new “Design Opinions Service” will be introduced to provide a low cost, non-binding and impartial view on potential design disputes.
• Introduction of criminal penalties for deliberate copying of a registered design (similar to the protection for copyright and trade marks).
• The default owner of a design will be the designer not the commissioner.
• Exception to the law to allow third parties to use unregistered rights for experimental purposes or private use (eg use by teachers in a classroom).
• Unregistered design rights can no longer be claimed to protect “any aspect” of a design.
• Third parties, acting in good faith, can continue to use a design right that is subsequently registered by someone else.
• Patent owners will be able to mark a patented product with a web address which details the relevant patent number(s). Currently patent owners have to mark their product with the specific patent number(s) to get maximum protection.
• The Patent Opinions Service will be extended so that the IPO can give non-binding opinions on a wider range of issues concerning patent validity – and on the validity and infringement of SPCs.
According to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the Act will be gradually brought into force from October 2014, with all measures with respect to domestic intellectual property law expected to be implemented by late 2015. More information on the Act can be found here.