Draft Registered Designs Regulations 2001

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Andrew Mackinlay: I take the point. Probably I should have resisted the measure, and I shall scrutinise this issue about the royal family in future. I want to know why those people should be included in the measure. I can see no earthly reason for it. Furthermore, what are the parameters of the royal family? I can make out no statutory limits to it. In my view they should be drawn at the present head of state, her spouse and probably her successor, but should not include anyone else. Can we be told why we should make a special reservation with respect to the royal family today—or, for that matter, why we should have done so on another occasion, when perhaps, regrettably, it went unnoticed?

Miss Johnson: I think that the answer to my hon. Friend is that we are trying to transpose and replicate the existing legislation. I was not a Member of Parliament in 1994, and I cannot comment on the reasons for the insertion of the clause in the 1994 Act. I am sure that my hon. Friend had his reasons for supporting it—or otherwise—at the time.

I turn to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Phil Sawford) about silver goods and new colours. The protection mentioned here is that given to designs possessing individual character. That means that it is given to the overall appearance of the design rather than to an individual aspect, such as the colour alone. I hope that that assists my hon. Friend with his difficulty.

A number of Committee Members, including the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Brian Cotter), asked about the timing. Only a few member states—Italy, France and perhaps Sweden—are believed to have implemented the directive on time, and several expect to be very late. That confirms what I said about the difficulties that we have had in making the translation into domestic legislation. In fact, we have done well by the standards of other EU member states. Any delay now is due to our desire to respond to the needs of those trying to implement the legislation. We could have opted for a shorter time lag.

Finally, the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare and others asked how we were disseminating information about intellectual property rights. The Department of Trade and Industry is trying to help small and medium sized enterprises to increase their knowledge of intellectual property rights. The grace periods that I referred to will help SMEs to test the market without putting themselves at risk, and will enable them not to go through the process if they do not feel that the design is worth the candle.

As we are keen to explain the directive and to assist small businesses in the UK to pick up the information, the Patent Office has distributed booklets aimed at individual designers and at SMEs at exhibitions and seminars, and as inserts in leading design magazines. They have proved so popular that, in addition to the original 48,000 print run, 15,000 further copies have been produced. I hope that that reassures the hon. Gentleman, and I shall ensure that his comments are drawn to the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Nigel Griffiths), who is responsible for small business at the DTI.

Designers across the UK, and in the rest of Europe, are looking forward to the simplification and the new opportunities offered by the harmonisation directive. It is the result of many years of consultation and negotiation and I commend the regulations, which implement the directive, to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Registered Designs Regulations 2001.

        Committee rose at eighteen minutes past Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Roe, Mrs. Marion (Chairman)
Barker, Mr.
Baron, Mr.
Cotter, Brian
Hendry, Mr.
Hoey, Kate
Johnson, Miss Melanie
Jones, Lynne
Mackinlay, Andrew
Miller, Mr.
Pearson, Mr.
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Mr.
Waterson, Mr.

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Prepared 29 October 2001