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Iconic designs that have been exploited by industrial process will now have a longer period of copyright protection

Written by Samuel O'Toole on 07 September 2016

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There has been a change to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, Section 52 of the 1988 Act has been repealed. The section limited the duration of copyright protection to 25 years where an artistic work has been exploited by industrial process. This meant that after this 25 year period the work may be copied without infringing the copyright in the work if more than 50 were produced. 

Following the repeal of the section iconic design products will now be afforded 70 years protection plus the life of the designer. An example of a work that will be subject to this is the well known DSW chair by Charles & Ray Eames and Arne Jacobsen’s egg chair.

The Intellectual Property Office has stated that the design must be proven to be a work of artistic craftsmanship to be afforded protection, however as there is not yet a formal definition this will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the UK courts. The Intellectual Property Office has provided rough guidelines, “artistic” entitles that the design is a work of art and that special training and skill constitute “craftsmanship”. It is further stated that “it is not enough for a work to look attractive to qualify”.

The change will bring copyright for iconic designs that have been exploited by industrial process in line with that with other more conventional works such as literature, sound recordings and films.

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