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    Opinion: Why the UK Government was right to protect design

Opinion: Why the UK Government was right to protect design

Posted by Rob Alderson,

This week Ailbhe McNabola, associate director of policy and research at the Design Council explains why the new legal protection for design is so welcome. As usual you can add your thoughts below…

Last week the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced that the Government plans to legislate as soon as possible, to bring about some changes and improvements in how design is protected in the UK.

The big story in here is the decision to go ahead with their proposal to make it a criminal offence to deliberately copy a design.

At the Design Council, we believe that the principle behind this decision is right – design should be protected, in the same way that other valuable creative industries are. Design is important to the UK economy: UK business invested £15.5 billion in design in 2009, and that investment can lead to new products and the promotion of innovation, and can help to sustain growth.

Our own research has shown that design delivers a return on investment for small and medium sized business: for every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £4 in net profit, over £5 in increased exports and over £20 in increased turnover (see our report here).

Businesses use design rights and other intellectual property to protect their creativity and their investment in design. We’ve been working with the IPO over the past year as they undertook a comprehensive review of the existing system of design protection, and identified ways to improve and simplify it. Their conclusions have been published here and they’ve announced that Government plans to implement the new criminal offence. Our Chief Executive, John Mathers, commented that this was “good news for designers, good news for consumers and great news for the UK as a global hub of design talent”.

Of course, the nuts and bolts of criminal enforcement need to be worked out, and whatever is put in place needs to work for all. We intend to keep working with the IPO to ensure that whatever they develop will work for the design industry and other businesses, and will mean that creativity and innovation continue to flourish in the UK.

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.