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UK design as a global industry

This research, undertaken in partnership with the Intellectual Property Office, was an investigation into the international supply chain of the UK’s design industry. We were seeking to highlight the particular challenges and opportunities arising from globalisation that this sector must confront. A particular focus was be given to the intellectual property system and the role of design rights within this. The research concluded in a report, UK design as a global industry, which is accessible from the Intellectual Property Office website.

The design industry has been the focus of much attention in recent years as an important knowledge-based, value-creating and internationally-facing UK sector. The 2011 Hargreaves review of intellectual property (IP) and growth highlighted the need for more research into the way the UK design industry interacts with the IP system.

The first wave of commissioned research highlighted, amongst other findings, the relative lack of design registration used as a form of IP protection when compared with other countries that have leading design sectors. This research will help to explain the diverse and international nature of the design supply chain sector, the UK’s role within that chain, and areas where more informed use of IP could benefit the sector.

Research Questions

  • What is the structure and nature of the UK’s design industry, and in what ways is it internationally focused?
  • What challenges and opportunities are faced by each part of the sector as components in international supply chains?
  • How could the design-rights system be modified to cover the differing needs within the design industry?