The UK Government is carrying out a review of the UK designs framework to ensure it is 'fit for the future'. As such, it has launched a 'call for views' seeking opinions from anyone with an interest in designs and how they are protected.
On 25 January 2022, the Government launched an open consultation entitled 'Reviewing the designs framework: Call for views'. Under this consultation the Government is seeking evidence as to the potential for improving the UK design system and to inform decisions on legislative action.
One of the things it is seeking views on, for example, is whether the UK should reintroduce 'novelty searching' potentially using a pre-application AI tool (to assist with determining whether a design is new and has individual character at the point of registration). It has also put forward the possibility of a two-tier registration system, where applications would be filed and examined in tier one according to current practices, but if the rights holder then wanted to enforce the design it would need to request a full search for novelty and individual character (akin to the approach in Australia). These proposals aim to identify and prevent anti-competitive registrations, but the Government acknowledges they must be balanced with the inevitable associated increase in time and cost.
The Government is looking for responses on this and other topics from all interested parties, including individual designers, small and large businesses, legal professionals and rights holders. The consultation will close on 25 March 2022.
Given the complexity of the UK design system since Brexit, and the issues many designers face as a result of anti-competitive registrations, the Government's engagement on this topic is welcome and it will be very interesting to see what happens next. We would encourage designers, design led businesses and manufacturers to engage with the open consultation to have your voices heard.
"The Intellectual Property Office (IPO)…want the IP system to be responsive to the changing needs of UK innovators, creators, businesses and consumers. As such, the IPO is carrying out a review to ensure the UK’s domestic designs framework is fit for the future. This will allow IP to continue incentivising innovation and contribute to the post-pandemic recovery as the UK builds back better"