A number of pressure groups are now attracting high profile retailers and other support in a campaign to urge retailers to commission original designs rather than copy them.
Following the case of designer Rachael Taylor, who took Marks & Spencer to court after the retailer used what appeared to be her design on a range of T-shirts, Taylor is urging other retailers to sign up to a pledge to protect independent traders and designers.
M&S refused to acknowledge infringement of the designer’s to ownership but eventually pulled the product range after Taylor went public via social media and she received an apology, if not an acknowledgement of liability.
A spokesperson for them eventually said: “We are sorry for any disappointment caused to Rachael Taylor Designs from the sale of a T-shirt that we bought in good faith from a direct supplier. After investigating the complaint we immediately withdrew the product from sale.”
The pledge, called “Commission it, don’t copy it”, initiated by the Anti-Copying in Design Group (Acid) already has the backing of John Lewis and Selfridges and is aimed at changing the culture they say pervades the industry that it is acceptable to steal people’s ideas and design work.
And Elle Decoration magazine, which supported Taylor in her fight with the retail giant, has also launched a campaign called Equal Rights for Design, which consists of an e-petition.
The e-petition asks the Government to afford design the same copyright protection afforded to other works of art, without which, it says, the UK is seen to be a default “safe harbour” for manufacturers producing “cut-price fakes of classic designs.”
The Elle Decoration magazine says on its website: “We believe this amounts to UK-endorsed intellectual property theft.”