Further to our earlier updates on the repeal of s52 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, which extends the term of protection of designs that are deemed to be 'artistic works' under copyright law, the Government has launched a new consultation.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 currently provides, in section 52, that artistic works which are exploited by an industrial process (that is, more than 50 articles being produced) have their copyright protection limited to a duration of 25 years (i.e. in line with the maximum available for registered designs). This period of protection is significantly less than the duration of copyright protection afforded to other artistic works, which is the period of the author's life, plus 70 years.
However, in order to align UK law with EU law, and to align the period of copyright protection across all artistic works, section 52 is being repealed.
The previous consultation and resulting Commencement Order set a repeal date of April 2020. Following a legal challenge, the Government repealed that Order in July, and is now consulting on a proposed date four years earlier, namely April 2016. The Government also proposes to introduce a date after which previously legal products that are now caught by the extended copyright term will no longer be able to be sold commercially, something that was not part of the previous arrangements.
As April 2016 is less than six months away, it is likely to have a more immediate and marked effect on design businesses.
The consultation invites responses by 9 December. We are considering putting in a response, either ourselves or via our participation on the ITMA and CIPA design and copyright committees, and if you have any views on this issue we would be grateful if you could let us know, by contacting John Coldham.