I recently learned about a trade organisation that lobbies against copying in design – ACID – Anti Copying in Design – http://www.acid.uk.com. It is a non-profit membership organisation that is committed to ‘raising awareness and encouraging respect for IP’.
They exclusively represent designers, makers and manufacturers in all industry sectors. Anyone can register as a member, where they can register their uploaded designs against their name. This can be very useful in providing evidence with regards to dates and authorship of a design – in essence proof to intellectual property rights.
It also provides a very good overview of intellectual property and the difference between registered and unregistered design rights. http://www.acid.uk.com/what-is-intellectual-property-ip.html. It may be cliché, but knowledge is power.
Infringement is a massive problem – and it costs a lot to go down the route of litigation when someone else has copied a design. It is essential to register trademarks and retain all documents that are linked to original designs. But going one step further and joining ACID is a smart thing to do.