Dessins et modèles industriels
6. In your country, where the provisions on the "Crown use" are applied, some restrictions are imposed on the owner of a protected industrial design: for example, license fees will not be paid to the owner of a registered design. Is there any possibility that the legitimate interests of a rightholder can be unreasonably prejudiced within the meaning of Article 26.2 of the TRIPS Agreement?
The Registered Designs Act 1949 provides that any government department or any person authorized in writing by a government department may use any registered design for the services of the Crown. Such use includes: (a)the supply to the government of any country outside the United Kingdom under an agreement between that country and the United Kingdom of articles required for the defence of that country or any country whose government is party to an agreement with the UK Government over defence matters; and (b)the supply to the United Nations or a government of any country belonging to that Organization of articles required for armed forces operating under a United Nations Resolution. The Act requires that, unless it would appear contrary to the public interest to do so, the registered proprietor is to be notified as soon as practicable after the use is begun and is to be given such information as to the extent of the use as he may from time to time require. The use of a design by or on behalf of the government after the date of registration shall be on such terms as may be agreed between the government and the registered proprietor or as may be determined by the court in the absence of such agreement. Compensation is also available to the registered proprietor, or to an exclusive licensee, for any loss resulting from his not being awarded a contract to supply the articles to which the design is applied. The only exception to the above is where the Crown has independently developed a design which is not substantially different, prior to the date of registration of the proprietor's design. In such cases, the Crown may continue to use its design free of royalty. Such a limited exception is therefore not considered to unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the proprietor of the registered design and as such is not considered to conflict with Article 26.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. It should also be noted that cases involving the use of a registered design by the government are rare. Indeed the Patent Office, which is the government authority responsible for administering the Registered Designs Act, is unaware of any recent uses of a registered design by or on behalf of the government.