The UK government has announced that on the 6 April 2020 the country's new copyright protection law will be introduced and the local production and sale of design copies will be illegal.
This news was followed by Design Shanghai's creative director Ross Urwin warning that the days for copycat designer goods are also numbered in China, ironically the place where many design replicas are produced. Chinese consumers are connecting with the value of high-quality goods and the disparity between real and fake. Those who were once happy to buy a copy are now questioning what they are actually buying – is it the real thing, who made it, how well is it made – and choosing original brands like B&B Italia, Moooi, Kartell, Zanotta or Vitra over fake. Design provenance has lasting appeal, as well as the sustainable ethos of a quality product made to last.
So what will this mean for Australia? Right now local copyright protection is way behind, even before the UK laws kick in. Let's hope this landmark decision will build momentum and help foster the case for more protection for Australian design businesses, and the many local and international creators affected by the copycat industry.
As Melbourne-based IP lawyer James Samargis remarks: 'The overseas position is a huge step and a big tick for them. They are reintroducing design rights and I hope Australia follows. However, having made changes to Designs law in 2003, the commonwealth government will take time to revisit it. Makers as a collective voice through the DIA, or other places, need to go back to government and say now, look what's happening in the UK, the Australian position is not good enough. You are preventing any new opportunity for innovation to have long-term value and traction in this country'.
Read the full report on the UK government's decison on Dezeen.