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The UKIPO have announced that the option of webmarking products to indicate registered design rights will launch on 1 October 2017.
This will bring UK registered designs into line with UK patents, where webmarking of patented products has (read previous article here) been an option since October 2014.
Present situation in webmarking
As reported in an earlier article here, we currently recommend that if you have a registered design right then you mark the related product with the country of application and the registered design number.
Displaying such information makes it considerably more difficult for a potential infringer to assert that their actions were innocent (i.e. they did not know that the design they were infringing was registered). This is key in registered design infringement cases. No damages can be sought against a registered design infringer who is able to prove that they were unaware of the existence of the disputed design right at the time of the alleged infringement.
New situation in webmarking
As of 1 October 2017, a UK registered design right holder will be able to mark their product with a web address and be able to benefit in the same way as if they had marked it with the country and design number, as long as the following conditions are met:
The given web address is accessible free of charge
Said webpage clearly associates the product with the number of the design
By removing the need to mark design numbers on products, the UKIPO hope that the burden on businesses and individuals who own registered design rights will be reduced. It should also be easier for the public to access up-to-date registered design information in relation to a product.
The marking of a product with a web address is voluntary and registered design owners will still have the option of marking their product with relevant design numbers or choosing to not mark their product at all. Choosing not to mark a product though will increase the risk that no damages can be sought for infringement.
If you would like further clarification, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys. At A.A. Thornton & Co. our patent and trade mark attorneys are qualified to provide advice on all aspects of design law. For more information on the design services we provide, please visit the website here.
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