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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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Filed Under: acta, commercial scale, copying, registered designs, trademark, uk

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  1. identicon
    andypandy, 17 Jun 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.

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