The UK/EU intellectual property blog The IPKat has shared an open letter from Santa Claus. He’s taken time out from his busy present-packing schedule because he’s been wrong-footed by the UK government’s plans to fast-track reforms to copyright legislation on commercial designs. Originally, these changes had a long lead time until 2020, so that the UK’s short 25-year limit on industrial process copyrights could be harmonized with the EU’s broader life-plus-70-years copyright regime. But, under legal pressure from three furniture companies, the UK government has now cut that five-year transition to just six months – until April 2016 – and brought forward the consultation period on the change to December 23rd.
“This is a real disaster for me,” writes Santa. “The elves and I always try and abide by the law. But I have only until Wednesday 23 December to reply, and I am really busy right now.”
The draft legislation has already been comprehensively criticized by publishers, design historians, and others, because it also penalizes use of 2d images of 3d designs, unless reproduced with formal permission. Writer Charlotte Fiell said in another open letter that it would “wipe out” design book publishing. Yet the UK government seems determined to press ahead with it anyway.
“Our legal elf is tearing his hair out about the books and jigsaws,” writes Santa. “Looking at the law, he says that even lawfully taken images of original products will now need consent.”
No word yet on whether the UK government still wants to play Grinch this Christmas.