Furniture wars!

The United Kingdom (UK) has introduced legislation, which will impede furniture manufacturers ability to mass-produce replica designer pieces.


Replicas of what were once considered rare and expensive pieces of furniture, are now sold for almost the same price as a piece designed for a big chain store. Shoppers, influenced by the latest design trends, showcased in glossy magazines, and reality television competitions, are demanding on trend furniture at affordable prices.


But how is it that manufactures can essentially copy a design, which theoretically should be protected?


The United Kingdom had design protection that operated for 25 years from the death of the creator. Under the changes – this has been extended to 75 years following the death of the creator. The change only affects the time when a design can be replicated, companies can still continue to pay for valid licenses, which will allow them to manufacture replicas, as long as they are sold as reproductions not an original design.


In Australia, if piece of furniture is new and distinctive then it may be registered as a design. This protects the shape, three-dimensional configuration and two dimensional pattern and ornamentation. Protection in Australia is for 10 years from registration.


If the piece of furniture in Australia is considered a work of “artistic craftsmanship” it may have the protection of the Copyright Act. Then it is protected for 70 years following the death of the creator. However, if more than 50 pieces are produced then copyright will be lost (as it is considered mass produced).


There is a call for Australia to follow the UK lead by providing longer-term protection to designers of furniture. Where a designer commercializes their own work, producing more than 50 pieces, many feel they should have longer than 10 years to exploit their design. People are pointing to these recent changes in the United Kingdom as the way forward.


Bayston Group assists many businesses to develop a strategy to protect their valuable Intellectual Property. If you have any questions around Patents, Designs, Trademarks, Copyright or any other Intellectual Property issue please contact Bayston Group.