Finally Knocking Knock Offs On The Head
Elle Decoration started a campaign in 2012 which shone a light on intellectual property rights in Britain. The drive was to stop exploiting designers, support originality and protect creativity. Needless to say, there were some very outspoken industry folk and the debate spread wide. Funnily enough it was David Cameron’s wife, who accidentally ignited the petition. The Evening Standard publicised her purchase of a replica Arco, Castiglioni lamp; see it really does begin and end at 10 Downing Street!
To give some baffling context – literature, drama, music, film and art are protected for 70 years after the creator’s death. However, in Britain it is legal to copy furniture, lighting and jewellery a mere 25 years after it’s been registered, and 3 years after unregistered designs. There has been pressure from the EU, since the UK is one of the only 3 countries to have this shorter period of protection, the other countries being Romania and Estonia. Perhaps this is why Mrs May’s negotiations have been so difficult!
Sir James Dyson is one of the outspoken folks I mention, saying ‘The aping of ingenious design and engineering impedes new ideas, sticks a finger up at investment in costly research and development, and circumvents any original thinking. There’s nothing clever about it.’
‘You’re a hypocrite’ I hear you cry. After all, it was only 3 weeks ago that I was gushing about a high street full of Mid-Century Modern. I accused the consumers love affair with MCM as the market fuel, yet it is also to do with legality. Replica furniture has seriously developed in the mid 2,000’s because the copyright has ended on a lot of iconic styles and pieces. But get it while it’s hot; it will be illegal to manufacture or sell copies of mass-produced designs after 6th April 2020.
The against camp (mainly replica manufactures) argued that the extension will in fact endeavour less innovation incentive. Where 25 years should be enough of a promotional and financial incentive for a designer. They argue that consumers will be condemned to a particular period and style. I refuse to think this.
My first and foremost feeling is that there will be more motive for both old, and up and coming designers. Then space will be carved out for more variety. Perhaps the cost-effective furniture manufacturers, will hire young designers in a reaction to no longer be able to rely on old established designs. This in turn opens up an arguably elitist community. The new law will demonstrate that there is plenty of space for new design...