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More Monopoly Madness: UK Criminalizes The Copying Of Registered Designs

from the exactly-wrong dept

One of the reasons that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was opposed and defeated in 2012 was that it included an attempt to require criminal sanctions for "willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale" (pdf), where "on a commercial scale" was so loosely defined that it risked applying to even trivial infractions. This is part of a continuing push around the world to bring in harsher penalties for infringements of intellectual monopolies, particularly in the realm of copyright.

It seems that even the more obscure domains are affected: the Comparative Patent Remedies blog has a post about new legislation in the UK that criminalizes the copying of registered designs. Written by Professor Sarah Burstein of the University of Oklahoma College of Law, the post is highly critical of the move, and takes apart the claimed reasons for bringing in this new law. In particular, she demolishes the "parity" argument -- that criminal penalties are available for copyright infringement, and so they should be for registered design infringement too. As Burstein points out:

Different IP rights are supposed to protect different things for different reasons; therefore, it is not at all unfair or illogical to provide for different remedies. The parity argument also appears to assume that criminal sanctions for copyright and trademark infringement are appropriate and well-justified -- something that is by no means clearly established.
After addressing the other supposed justifications for criminalization, Burstein concludes as follows:
overall, the addition of these new criminal sanctions to UK law appears to be an ill-advised and unfortunate development. As many opponents (who included UK companies, IP practitioners and IP professors) noted, there is a significant risk that these sanctions will chill legitimate design innovation.
In other words, extreme measures supposedly brought in to support the design industry and its creativity may end up damaging it.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 17th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    Free markets, my arse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 6:50am


    Correct, an illusion, one still used by the left to falsely besmirch capitalism.

    But as long as people ignorantly "believe" they are in a free market, then it does not matter what type of market we have.

    The idiots, regardless of political ideology, walk amongst us in the majority and they vote!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re:

    The 'free' is meant to stand for 'free to compete', but some elements of the politisphere seem to think it should be 'free fo consequence'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Michael, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 7:16am

    "willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale"

    I am pretty sure this only applies if you are making counterfeit commercial scales and this is a HUGE problem.

    Counterfeit commercial scales are causing all kinds of things to be weighed and sold improperly. I recently bought a 14 ounce container of mixed nuts the other day and I am positive it only had 13 ounces in it.

    We need to support this, or you too could find yourself lacking nuts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jun 17th, 2014 @ 7:19am

    okay, i'll be the dumb one in class..., what is a 'registered design' ? ? ?
    hell, i've been on this site for years, and simply by osmosis have picked up a lot of the lingo and legalese, but i don't recall seeing what a 'registered design' is ...
    is that some britishism for a registered trademark, or something else entirely ? ? ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Michael, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 7:27am

    Re: okay, i'll be the dumb one in class..., what is a 'registered design' ? ? ?

    It is a type-o. They mean a 'register design'. I think this is all about point of sale systems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Kenneth Michaels, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 8:16am

    commercial scale

    Although you are only joking (apparently) it is interesting to note that ACTA brought us from a "personal use" exception to only "commercial scale" infringement. This shift in language, although superficially minor, was very intentional and dangerous.

    With personal devices capable of storing tens of thousands of songs and thousands of movies, now even personal copying can easily land you in the "commercial scale" territory for criminal prosecution. Heck, a physical commercial music store only carries thousands of songs - the same scale as our laptops and soon-to-be phones. The "commercial scale" language was added specifically to target personal copying on personal devices, despite its devious "commercial" language.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    andypandy, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 8:50am


    This reminds me of the business, I cannot remember which one that sued Google to remove them from any of their searches, and then after winning the case in court begged Google to put their business back into the search results as they lost all of their business and were not making any income at all.

    Just goes to show, these industries know very little about the internet and how it works and are doing things that will only hurt themselves, and they deserve everything that is coming their way, which includes no profits or possibly no income at all.

    The same as the content and copyright maximalists have destroyed the music industry to a large extent and are encouraging people that have never shared content online to do so. Everyone has warned them that if they do not give the customers what they want the customers will move to someone who gives them what they want...and it is free.

    They lost the opportunity to monetise the internet and now have no chance of doing so, they need to start with something that is almost free, say a subscription to download drm free and recent movies/tv shows for less than $10 per month with all content on one site. Damn many people now will not even pay that so they may have to rely on advertising and give all content ever created free of charge to attract pirates.

    this silly law is gong to do something similar, where some will use it and others will not, those that do not will make huge amounts of sales and those that enforce it will lose everyone they have as customers now to other institutes selling very similar items.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2014 @ 9:23am


    The facebook share button logo designer sues everyone with a share button on their site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jun 17th, 2014 @ 12:55pm

    Re: lol

    You're thinking about the Belgian newspapers, which were covered a few years back, and yeah, it was pretty funny, they got what they asked for(no longer being linked to on Google), but not what they wanted(money), and screamed like children when they suddenly found out that they need Google a lot more than Google needed them.

    The story(mostly), in four articles:

    How Dare Google Send Belgian News Sites Traffic! Court Orders Them To Stop

    Newspapers Win Suit Against Google, Get Their Wish To Be Delisted, Then Complain t-their-wish-to-be-delisted-then-complain.shtml

    Belgian Newspapers 'Give Permission' To Google To Return Them To Search Results google-to-return-them-to-search-results.shtml

    Belgian Newspapers Agree To Drop Lawsuit Over Google News After Google Promises To Show Them How To Make Money Online t-over-google-news-after-google-promises-to-show-them-how-to-make-money-online.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Pragmatic, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 4:40am

    Re: Re:

    Correct, an illusion, one still used by the right to falsely promote capitalism.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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