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Pursuing Infringers of a Registered Design

Written by Jane Coyle on 08 September 2008

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Infringement of a UK registered design occurs when a person does anything which infringes the registered proprietor's exclusive right to use the design or any design which does not produce a different impression on the informed user (taking into account the degree of freedom of the author in making his design). Account must also be taken of any disclaimer or limitation on the register. Therefore infringement is not limited to the exact design, but also applies to similar designs, and is not limited to the original article. For example, a design originally produced on crockery could be infringed if reproduced on curtains. Infringing acts include making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting, stocking or using the product without the consent of the owner.

A number of acts are specifically allowed in relation to UK registered designs and therefore do not constitute infringement: an act which is done privately and for non-commercial purposes; an act which is done for experimental purposes; an act of reproduction for teaching purposes, provided the reproduction is fair, does not unduly prejudice the normal exploitation of the design and mention is made of the source; if the product has been put on the market in the EEA by or with the consent of the owner (in other words, the right is "exhausted" within the EEA); repairing a complex product to its original appearance by replacing a component part. (This is an area of ongoing dispute between original equipment manufacturers, independent spare parts producers and legislators.); acts committed before the grant of the registration certificate.

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