Craft Focus - Page number 92 - August/September 2021 (Issue 86)

92 Intellectual property Dids Macdonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID), looks at who owns intellectual property, and why the small print counts Most designers will know that when you create a new product or design you are automatically creating intellectual property rights which have a value. In other words, you own them, they are your property, and you can decide how they can be used, by whom and under what circumstances. IP rights are like any other form of property and they can be dealt with in a variety of ways. Apart from the obvious, by protecting your original creations, they can be shared, sold, licensed, assigned or used in other ways such as in franchising. Over the years we have been asked many questions about the use of IP agreements in commercial relationships, so we have picked just a few where the use of a simple agreement could help to avoid a subsequent problem. Q I am working with another freelance designer on what we think are unique designs for a range of tableware that we hope to launch shortly. We are also good friends and have informally agreed that we both own any IP rights created because eventually we want to licence these to a manufacture. We really want to make a go of this venture but in the unlikely event that we decided go our separate ways, who owns the IP rights? A Clarity of ownership is key and doesn’t have to be complicated. Relying on informality and not recording the basis on which you are working together can make life very complicated if, for example, the relationship changes or goes wrong. Q I am a surface pattern designer, and a giftware manufacturer wants to buy my design and apply it to a new product range. I do not want to sell the design outright as I would like to have the option of using it myself in the future. How can I best protect myself? A Basically, you want to allow another to use your design but retain ownership and receive financial benefits from doing so. The best option is to licence the use of the design to the manufacturer. The starting point should be to have a Licence/ Royalty Agreement drawn up. It is important that the agreement is reduced to writing for several reasons: • It provides commercial certainty to both parties as to what the agreement between them is. • There is no ambiguity as to what the manufacturer is licensed to do, how long it is licensed to do it for, on what types of products it can use the design and whether you will be at liberty to grant licences to others. • The terms of payment can be specifically set down such as