06 January 2013

Marks & Spencers settle out of court with Designer, Rachael Taylor

We received a press release from Anti-Copying In Design (ACID) reproduced below which is likely to ruffle a lot of feathers throughout the creative industries and raises serious concerns over ‘ethics’ (or lack off) concerning corporate retailers and their blatant disregard for the intellectual property of leading designers. In this instance the alleged culprit is Marks & Spencer’s – a respected brand that we should all expect to be able to trust – should we not?

Neither ACID nor Rachael Taylor are in a position to offer detail regards how this, alleged infringement came about – most likely due to a silencing order as part of the settlement.

What is known is that Marks & Spencer’s refused to enter into mediation and instead favoured forcing the designer into litigation most likely to delay resolution and curtail the designer’s ability to enforce her rights due to legal costs.

The main image attached to this story (above) makes it plain to see the designers claim (M & S on the left) against M & S for allegedly lifting and commercially using the design without permission or payment. The design was then applied to a mass produced product netting sales income and profits for M & S alone.



Creative Barcode has several times proposed an Imitation Tax be brought into the Intellectual Property system that rewards original designers with a % of the net sales earned from mass produced clear imitations, for a fixed term period and a source credit attribution, 'based on an original design by name of designer' applied to all promotional materials and clothing labels. Such a tax would bolster the value of the original design and provide a deserved financial gain which the designer would have expected to earn under a license agreement or original commission. The consumer would benefit from the cheaper mass produced product and innovation opened up.

Corporate firms and others hide behind a claim that creating new products inspired by (off of the back of) originals is innovation. But in this instance and many others, who are they trying to kid? Copying is not innovation, new stuff and inspirational original creativity, is.

It also never ceases to astound me that the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), fast to take registration and patent fees and renewal fees of off Creators, do not have so much as an intervention system in place.

Creative Barcode works with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for the very reason that they offer our members an intervention service where a letter is sent on behalf of the member to the alleged infringer. Our system has never been breached but in a handful of cases where a breach could have arisen, it was resolved swiftly due to the very mention of WIPO intervention.

If the IPO continues to remain so entirely detached from the infringement of design, copyright and patents registered with them by individuals, inventors, micro sized firms these Creators may view them as less and less relevant.  

And Marks & Spencer’s allegedly appear to have side-stepped trust, etiquette and ethics –altogether. Yet would prosecute a shoplifter for stealing the product, which they allegedly stole from the designer! -

Hypocrisy, anyone?     

Over to ACID  


In what has been a long legal battle since June of this year, the high profile case of alleged infringement by Marks & Spencer of a copyright work designed by award winning Rachael Taylor is over.  ACID member Rachael Taylor commented, "The matter has now been concluded with M & S and I have nothing further to add."


Rachael's August 2012 blog about the M & S issue read, " It's deeply upsetting as I followed the correct legal format, my design is well documented (first created in 2008) I'm an active member of the ACID community. I sought legal advice & complained immediately to Marks & Spencer, I kept the whole thing quiet & tried to work with Marks & Spencer to resolve the issue yet they have left me with no choice as the matter is still unresolved....I decided to speak out publicly so they took the matter seriously. I also felt it was my moral duty as a teacher to raise awareness on the re occurring issue, to not be afraid to speak out & protect what's rightfully yours." 


Dids Macdonald, ACID's CEO said, "For a micro design-led business, taking on the likes of M & S is not for the faint hearted. Rachael regrettably had to resort to social media to make the issue known after M & S refused to deal with the matter expeditiously. Despite my trying to mediate on behalf of Rachael, M & S preferred to deal with the matter legally through solicitors. I am delighted that the matter has concluded without the need for further litigation and I sincerely hope that we can enter into really positive dialogue hereafter."


Kelly Hudson, an IP lawyer from ACID Accredited law firm said, "Rachel was lucky that she was not alone in seeking a fair result, nearly 1000 designers signed the ACID campaign to encourage commissioning and paying for original design. The petition is still open so do sign it to show your support that the case has now been concluded."




Creative Barcode / ACID
Creative Barcode / ACID

www.acid.uk.com , www.creativebarcode.com

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