London Design Festival 2020: Designer panel: is being copied ever good news?

51 minute read
18 September 2020



"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness". That was Oscar Wilde's view, but for designers, being ripped off risks being very harmful indeed. When does 'taking inspiration' cross the line?

As part of London Design Festival 2020, our Head of Brands and Designs John Coldham (Gowling WLG) hosted a panel with leaders of design-led businesses, John Ayton MBE (Annoushka), Martin Darbyshire (tangerine) and Sam Jacob (Sam Jacob Studio), to discuss how designers can use intellectual property to help the business side of design.

This is our eighth consecutive year of being a London Design Festival partner and we were excited to host this year's event virtually via webinar.



John Coldham

John Coldham is the UK Head of Brands and Designs. The team is the MIP Designs Firm of the Year 2020, having also won the award in 2019, and was nominated for the Trademark Contentious Firm of the Year award.

John is a recognised expert in all types of intellectual property (IP) strategy and litigation. He won the Client Choice Award 2019 for Designs, and has been recognised as a 'star lawyer' by the Acritas Stars database each year since 2017. John also has MIP's 'IP Star' status in both trademarks and designs.

John Ayton

John co-founded Annoushka, the fine jewellery brand with his wife @AnnoushkaDucas in 2009 and continues to serve as Executive Chairman.

In September 2018, as seed investor and Chairman of Orlebar Brown, John oversaw the sale to Chanel SA. In March 2019 John stepped down as Chairman of Bremont Watch Company after the sale of his shareholding. John was a seed investor in Bremont and the largest single shareholder.

In the past John has founded luxury businesses such as Links of London and Annoushka and has seen them grow internationally. John has invested in tech related start ups including the telematics business Wejo, the photo printing app Printastic, Pi-Top, fintech pioneer Revolut, Feast-It, Vinterior and Lovecrafts.

John has also invested in new consumer and luxury brands founded by others acting as a mentor to new entrepreneurs. John hopes to bring very practical advice to a founder, supporting them through some of the challenges that John himself has been through.

Martin Darbyshire

Martin has been inspiring groundbreaking innovation and design at tangerine since co-founding the company in 1989. Under his stewardship the company has grown into an international design consultancy with offices in the UK, South Korea and Brazil; from which, tangerine exports design services to leading retailers, service providers and manufactures.

Tangerine design every touchpoint a customer can have with a brand and, in many cases, the brand itself. Their reach extends from foresight within trend and creative direction, to design-led strategy and rethinking companies’ business models.

Martin has served two terms as a board member of the ICSID (now the World Design Organization). He is honoured to be a trustee of the UK Design Council, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Society of Designers and represents design on IE:UK, the Infrastructure Exports board of the UK Government’s Department for International Trade.

Sam Jacob

Sam Jacob is principal of Sam Jacob Studio for architecture and design, a practice whose work spans scales and disciplines from urban design through architecture, design, art and curatorial projects.

He has worked internationally on award winning projects and has exhibited at major museums such as the V&A, MAK, and The Art Institute of Chicago as well as cultural events including the Venice Architecture Biennale. He is Professor of Architecture at UIC, Chicago, and columnist for Art Review. Previously he was a founding director of FAT Architecture.

Designs for Life

In this webinar, we hear from a number of leading designers, with different types of experience, about how protecting innovation is a crucial part in the business side of design.

For more information on this, visit our Designs for Life page, which includes our essential guide to design law. Made for designers, the three-part guide explores the key considerations in the design, protection and enforcement process.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.



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