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Published: July 2008

Rachael Chambers talks to Dids Macdonald
Chief Executive of ACID

What is ACID?

ACID (Anti Copying in Design) is a hard-hitting trade organisation representing 1000+ companies from 25 different industry sectors. The organisation is committed to fighting intellectual property theft to safeguard innovation and ensure that IP can be fully protected, exploited and commercialised. By maintaining a high profile at exhibitions and trade shows, reinforced by the powerful ACID brand of protection, the organisation also functions as a strong deterrent, on-the-spot advice centre and mediation service at shows where many copying complaints arise.

ACID is celebrating 10 years in 2008, how did it all begin?

I had a highly successful London based interior design practice, which I steered into becoming a global, niche market design and manufacturing company. It was at this time I acquired a first hand knowledge of what it was like to be copied as my design-led products were consistently plagiarised. Driven by a sense of moral outrage, I gathered together 12 trade associates – all of whom had experienced copying. ACID began informally in 1996 as a round table discussion group - designers and manufacturers who were concerned at the threats posed by intellectual property theft.

How can ACID help makers?

ACID acts as a conduit, an informer and educator, offering help in understanding the law and practical ways to protecting Intellectual Property rights, such as simple design audit trails - signing and dating photos of the design stages before products go to market. At ACID we have a Design Deposit Bank, which holds 300,000 designs, this works two fold in that it protects alongside offering an effective and organised document management service.

What does your day to day role involve?

No day is ever the same. I can be at grass roots fire-fighting or lobbying at government level. I am involved in industry groups, seminars and workshops and write user friendly positive articles on topics such as licensing and franchising as well as speaking to ACID members and liaising with our team of IP lawyers. I also undertake mediations on behalf of our members. We have a great team at ACID and any member who contacts us will always be able to speak to someone in our membership office who can help and offer practical advice.

In ACID’s 10 year history is there a key achievement that you are most proud of?

We have achieved a great deal over the past 10 years but within that time ACID has undertaken over 2,000 grass roots mediations and less than 30% have required further legal intervention. There have been hundreds of settlements on behalf of members and, in fact, we have recovered over £3 million in costs and damages. ACID is helping it’s members to become more IP savvy and design thieves are being named and shamed.

What is the best part of your role as Chief Executive of ACID?

I am still doing something that I feel very passionate about and this passion is making a difference, my strength is that I am in a position to help.

If you weren’t doing this job what career path would you have liked to follow?

I used to be a cabin crew member on Concorde so maybe I would have gone into airline management, and of course I used to have my own interior design business, so perhaps I would have carried on with that.

What do think the future of your industry holds?

I am seeing a ripple of change, there is pressure on the government to protect against IP theft and I feel there is now a political will to help. The creative industries are a big part of our economy, and there is a great deal of talent in craft. The creative boldness of the industry daring to be different and wanting to protect it.

If you could change one thing in the industry what would it be?

I would however like to see mediation mandatory in legal challenges and design theft to have corporate criminal sanctions

Do you have a memorable career moment?

Now, I never thought ACID would be this strong 10 years on. We have had our new ‘Mediate to Resolve’ campaign endorsed by the Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Morgan of Derfelin.

What was the last piece of craft/design that you bought?

An Adam Arronson vase, he is a very talented glass artist and I find his work staggeringly beautiful.

What is your most prized possession?

My health. I have seen friends get ill and leave this world. Your health means you have the energy to be passionate in what you do.

After 10 years in the business is there a key piece of advice you could give to those starting out?

Don’t take No for an answer. Read the small print, use your contacts shamelessly and learn the less dramatic side of your business; finance and law.

T: 0845 644 3617

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