The Intellectual Property Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and will come into force from 01 October 2014. The Intellectual Property Act emanates from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth and is intended to modernise, simplify and clarify the law relating to designs and patents.

Arguably the most significant amendment is contained within Clause 13 of Part 1, relating to designs:

Registered designs have been brought in line with copyright and trade marks in terms of sanctions. It will be a criminal offence to intentionally copy a UK or Community registered design where the copy/infringing product is made exactly to the design or has features differing only in immaterial details.

Other key provisions of the Intellectual Property Act include:

  • harmonising UK and EU law, and design and copyright law, by exempting certain acts, including private acts done for teaching or experimental purposes, from infringing unregistered designs (Clause 4);
  • making consistent the financial remedies for innocent infringement of UK registered designs and Community designs, and introducing another way to appeal design decisions of the UK Intellectual Property Office via an ‘Appointed Person’ (Clause 10); and
  • introducing a voluntary, nonbinding Designs Opinion Service and an extension of the Patent Opinions Service (Clauses 11 and 16, respectively).

The Intellectual Property Act also:

  • enables the UK (in its own right as opposed to via its European Union membership) to join the Hague international design registration system (Clause 8);
  • allows for ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (Clause 17); and
  • provides for a new exception under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in relation to disclosure of research information prior to publication (Clause 20).

Useful links

UK Intellectual Property Office Intellectual Property Act overview page.