The infringement of design copyright is a global problem, but a particularly sensitive issue in the Middle East. Everyone seems to know someone whose designs have been ripped off by an unscrupulous client, a money-grabbing contractor, or another lazy designer. So Commercial Interior Design has decided to shine a light on this murky practice.
We took a three-pronged approach. Firstly, we ran a survey among the readers of CID, Middle East Architect, and designMENA.com. More than 100 respondents shared their perceptions and experiences of design copyright abuses in the Middle East, the highlights of which are represented in the info-graphics below.
These quantitative results were then qualitatively validated via a roundtable debate involving participants from across the design supply chain, including a leading product design company, interior designers, and a fit-out contractor, as well as an expert in intellectual property.
Finally, we discussed this topic during this year’s designMENA Summit, which took place on 5 December. At the event, a wide audience had the the chance to have their say on the matter in a panel discussion and Q&A session.
Although an equal number of respondents (37%) said examples of design copyright infringement is common in the Middle East, only 31% of designers believe that works in product, interior and architecture design – including drawings, visuals, and engineering plans – are protected by industrial design or copyright law.
36% of respondents said these works are not protected in the Middle East, while the other 33% said they are not aware whether they are protected or not.
Similarly, only 11% of respondents said they have registered their works with the appropriate government office to gain copyright protection, while 64% said they were not aware that they could register their work and 25% said it wasn’t worth the expense.
45% of respondents confirmed to witnessing unauthorised use of other people’s interior designs, and 47% said the same of product designs.
In response to questions about suing for copyright infringement, 63% of designers know a design/architecture firm that has unsuccessfully sued for damages over unauthorised use of design copyright in the Middle East. Only 20% know a design firm that has successfully sued.
66% of respondents also agreed that suing has a low chance of success, while 53% believe that effort and cost of bridging action are not worth it. Another set up, to which 53% of respondents confirmed to, is that suing simply risks upsetting influetial clients.
40% of respondents to our survey also said that they avoid certain clients because of their unauthorised use of design work.
We are always keen to hear the design community’s views on this important topic, so feel free to contact the CID and designMENA team at any time with your thoughts on copyright.