12 May 2015

Summary of the key 2014 UK & EU Intellectual Property changes and 2015 the Year of Collective Responsibility

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Following extensive IP review consultations that began with the Hargreaves Review in late 2010 followed on through 2012-2013 by Hoopers Reports, 2014 finally saw a few IP changes come to fruition.

Most notably:

·         Copyright exceptions

·         Design Law Criminal Sanctions

·         EU Extended Copyright Licensing

·         Orphan Works Registry

·         Changes to Patent Law and Extended Patent Advisory Service

Copyright Exceptions

The copyright exceptions for private copying for personal use, quotation and parody were approved by Parliament on 29 July 2014 and came into force on 1st October, 2014.

Copyright exceptions include:

Personal copying for private use allows consumers who have purchased a copyright work to copy it to their hardware devices strictly for their own personal use.

Parody, caricature and pastiche

Exceptions include fair and proportionate use of copyright works, without permission of copyright owner, for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche.


Extending the existing exception for ‘criticism or review’ to cover all types of fair quotation, as long as there remains sufficient acknowledgement of the quotation.

These exceptions follow on from the exceptions for libraries, education, research, disabled people and public bodies which came into force on 1 June 2014.



Design Law changes

The Intellectual Property Act to modernise Design Laws received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and the provisions it contains came into force on 1 October 2014.

1.     Design ownership: the owner of a commissioned design will now be the designer and not the commissioner (unless a contract states otherwise).

2.     Prior use of a design: where someone uses a design in good faith that is subsequently registered by another person, there will be some protection from infringement action.

 3.     The intentional copying of a registered design is now a criminal offence.

 4.     Simplification of who is able to qualify for an unregistered design right in the UK and restricting the ability to base a claim for copying on a cropped area of an unregistered design (a ‘part of a part’).

5. The definition of unregistered design right has been narrowed slightly

6. The meaning of ‘originality’ within the definition of unregistered design has been refined

7. Eligibility requirements defining who may claim UK unregistered design rights have been streamlined

Future changes to the law will include the creation of an impartial, non-binding opinions service and extending the Hague international design registration system. More specific guidance will be published as changes occur. 

Qualifying countries are

UK and other EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

Countries with reciprocal arrangements with the UK: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Channel Islands, Falklands Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Montserrat, New Zealand, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands [St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha], South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Turks and Caicos Islands.



EU Extended Copyright Licensing (ECL) regulations

Further changes to EU copyright took place in November 2014.  The change sanctions Collection Societies to use Extended Copyright licensing regulations (EU Directive) to negotiate blanket licenses for re-use of both members and non-members works and collect royalties to be re-distributed to rights owners.  


Collecting societies are organizations that represent a sector of rights holders, such as music, film, literature, and manage the outsourced function of rights management on behalf of their members. The Extended Copyright licensing regulations formally sanction Collection Societies to also License non-members works.  

In the UK members and non-members do have the right to opt-out of Extended Copyright Licenses, however this right could change in order to preserve the complete work, for example, avoiding blanked out scenes in a film arising from an actors’ decision to opt-out.

Across Scandinavia the Collection Societies have a very high membership and their ECL’s do not permit opt-out.

The Extended Copyright licensing (more info) will affect the vast majority of all creators in the EU If they have published their works or made these available via social media sites.

Arguably, Collection Societies have acted for and collected royalties on behalf of non-members for some years – without formal EU regulation. The new regulations should therefore provide a level of comfort & security to members and non-members.

However, non-members need to pay close attention to the activities of the Collection Society representing their sector and ensure they keep abreast of ECL licenses that involve their IP Rights.

The onus is on Creators (non-members) to submit royalty claims to the Collection Societies.  


Announcement of Orphan Works registry –


In November 2014, the UK IPO issued, in our opinion a slightly premature, press release announcing it had opened up access to a register of 91 million Orphan Works covering still images, moving images, sound recordings, written work, scripts and choreography and music notation . It claims the register will enable millions of Creative and Cultural Works to be digitised and put up for license to anyone who wishes to use the work and avoid direct risk of copyright infringement. License fees paid will be retained in an IPO Orphan Works fund (we assume) to be passed to the copyright owner when found or if the owner is deceased to be claimed by their estate managers if the work remains within copyright. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-opens-access-to-91-million-orphan-works

It’s a good idea in principle but currently, poorly implemented.

The register is in Beta mode and content and design is extremely scant. https://www.orphanworkslicensing.service.gov.uk/view-register


Changes to patent law

The IP Act will introduce a number of changes to patent law, which simplify complex areas and make it cheaper and easier to use and defend patents. This will be beneficial for both patent holders and third parties.

Key changes include:

  • marking patented products with a web address
  • expansion of the patent opinions service
  • patents work-sharing

The Patent Opinions Service was expanded on 1 October 2014 to provide opinions on a much wider range of patent disputes. It will now also provide opinions on Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs).

In addition, the IPO will start the process of revoking a patent if an opinion has been issued indicating that the patent is not new and inventive.

The Patent Opinions Service will offer non-binding opinions on the following matters:

  • whether a particular act constitutes (or would constitute) an infringement of the patent
  • whether the patented invention is new and/or involves an inventive step
  • whether the invention in question is capable of industrial application
  • whether the invention in question relates to matter excluded by section 1(1)(d) of the Patents Act 1977
  • whether the specification of the patent discloses the invention clearly and completely enough for it to be performed by a person skilled in the art
  • whether the matter disclosed in the specification of the patent extends beyond that disclosed in the application for the patent as filed
  • whether the protection conferred by the patent has been extended by an amendment which should not have been allowed
  • whether a particular act constitutes or (if done) would constitute an infringement of a SPC
  • whether an SPC is valid


Online piracy remains problematic.

In mid-2014 the government shelved the Digital Economy Act designed to tackle piracy issues. A myriad of reforms continue to be discussed at international, EU and UK level. However as Intellectual Property debates straddle the often contencious and conflicting interests of innovation, corporate & creators IP rights, individuals’ human rights and the interests of society at large, it is a hugely challenging task to reach a majority consensus to enable change to be fast, easy or universally accepted

IP Innovation and financing

Private sector IP innovators, including Creative Barcode, continue to make some headway with new products and services that attempt to make it easier to build trusted relationships and to communicate Creators permission based usage rights, but innovation in the sector remains dramatically under-financed.

Launched in 2014 the UK Copyright Hub operating on a tight budget is beginning to make headway with its technology agnostic model designed to enable copyright content platforms to hook onto the hub. This is designed to enable content users to swiftly search for and more easily license copyright materials.

Arguably, the technologies already exist or can be adapted or newly developed to significantly increase revenue streams and reduce IP infringement as well as reduce Orphan Works and curtail illegal downloads and other forms of direct theft which cause damage to creative industries.

Re-education and collective effort

However, in a digital world where internet users wish to consume high levels of content fast and largely free, a mass re-education is required. Creators of all type also need to play their role and use available methods to communicate usage terms and where necessary re-evaluate and adjust their business models, pricing and payment methods.  

Additionally, major platform providers need to show a genuine commitment towards respecting content owners and make significantly greater efforts to communicate permission based usage to internet users rather than continue to massage their own profits at the expense of the creative industries.

The law is a complex and slow moving beast and is already decades behind the fast moving digital world.

The chasm can only get wider, without the collective effort of the private sector platform owners, creators and consumers committed towards a more transparent, balanced and equitable contribution to content and division of rewards.

We declare 2015 the Year of Collective Responsibility

Creative Barcode 2015

Our contribution towards the Year of Collective Responsibility is to aim to achieve an API that enables third party platform owners involved in any form of ideas exchange, open innovation; funding; copyright content marketing and so forth, to integrate our IP Rights technology. By doing so we hope to empower 100’s of platforms to achieve collective IP responsibility in a low cost and mutually beneficial manner.









Maxine J Horn
Creative Barcode

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