Clause 13 - Offence of unauthorised copying etc. of design in course of business

Part of Intellectual Property Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 30th January 2014.

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Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 11:45 am, 30th January 2014

I was swotting up, and I hope my hon. Friend takes that back to the Chief Whip. Paragraph 57 demonstrates the difficulties and subtleties of this field of law:

“The point of design protection must be to reward and encourage good product design by protecting the skill, creativity and labour of product designers. This effort is different from the work of artists. The difference between a work of art and a work of design is that design is concerned with both form and function. However design law is not seeking to reward advances in function. That is the sphere of patents. Function imposes constraints on a designer’s freedom which do not apply to an artist. Things which look the same because they do the same thing are not examples of infringement of design right.”

The last sentence is significant. If such cases are moved into the criminal courts, with the possibility of 10 years’ imprisonment, juries might convict on the basis of things doing the same thing and consequently looking the same, but that, as we have heard, is not an infringement of design right. The Government need to be absolutely sure of their footing, based on strong evidence. I have tabled our amendments to test the Minister on that point.