The final days of replica goods

January 2017

UK law in respect of artistic works which have been industrially manufactured (more than 50 were made) changed significantly in July 2016. The 28th January 2017 will mark the “depletion date”; after this date, no unauthorised copies of artistic works may be sold, put into circulation or communicated to the public unless an exception applies.  

From 28th January 2017, you may not deal with any replicas or unauthorised copies made in reliance on section 52 CDPA (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). By this date, all of these items must:

  • be depleted (sold or destroyed):
  • have permission from the rights holder to continue their trading; or
  • rely on an exception.

Simple possession of an article after this date will not be a breach of copyright, although possession may become an infringement if done so while acting in the course of a business.

Copyright protection for industrially manufactured items is now in line with other artistic works so that all types of artistic works have copyright protection for the life of the creator plus 70 years.  Following the change in law, artistic works that had been industrially made but whose 25 year term of copyright had expired under the old section 52 of the CDPA, now resume the remainder of the complete lifetime plus 70 year term at the point at which the old 25 year term had expired, so some works will effectively revert to being protected by copyright.  Some examples can be found in the UKIPO’s guidance here.

If you would like any further information on how the repeal of section 52 CPDA may affect your business, please contact HGF Law.  

This update was prepared by Martyn Fish, Partner.