The Intellectual Property Act 2014

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The Intellectual Property Bill was considered by Parliament between May 2013 and April 2014, and received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 to become the Intellectual Property Act 2014.

Measures of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 are expected to come into force gradually from October 01, 2014.

This new Act will introduce fundamental developments in UK patents and designs law in particular, besides facilitating the implementation of the Unified Patents Court (‘UPC’) branch in London.

From a practical point of view, for UK businesses and intellectual property rights owners, important changes include:

  • The provision of a web address on patented products, rather than the publication numbers of relevant patents. A practical example of how this measure may be implemented can be seen at www.tivo.com/patents.
  • Procedural modifications to the UKIPO Patent Opinion Service, which currently provides a low-cost, non-binding and impartial opinion about the validity or infringement of one or more patents in the context of a disputes, aimed at facilitating the initiation of revocation proceedings in prima facie cases.
  • Accession of the UK to The Hague Agreement, enabling the filing of applications for registration of a design in several Hague Agreement signatory countries with a single application and fee.
  • The introduction of a Designs Opinion Service at the UKIPO, similar to the Patent Opinion Service mentioned above.
  • The introduction of criminal penalties against the infringer where the copying of a registered design is deliberate.
  • Default ownership of a design remaining with the designer, rather than vesting in the commissioner, unless a contract states otherwise.

In this last respect, UK businesses and individuals who commission third parties, such as design companies,  independent contractors and freelance designers, should therefore ensure that the necessary assignment documents are completed, preferably before the commission is granted or at the time of granting same, to avoid entitlement issues.

These developments are expected to simplify and strengthen patent and design protection for the UK's ever more knowledge-based economy, particularly its important design sector. They are aimed at making the IP registration and enforcement procedures still clearer and more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses, whilst ensuring that the UK IP system is operating efficiently.

Please contact your habitual Franks & Co attorney if you wish to assess how opportunities created by the Intellectual Property Act 2014 may be best exploited for your business and your IP.

Article Published June 11, 2014