The first framework of Copyright law arose from the arrival of printed book, because the chap down the road with a printing press could produce an exact copy of the book you had worked at and crafted for years. As time went by textile design was woven into the copyright protection. The production of pottery did not at this time need such protection as it was largely functional and artisan.
Then in the late 18th Century and early 19th Cenutry this all changed as the English potteries became a force to be reckoned with.
In 1797 The Sculpture Copyright Act reached the statute book and this was updated in 1814 and they both gave protection to the "modelled form", a term which a few potters extended to the shape of jugs etc. A key requirement was that you had to mark each piece with "Published by and your name, short address and date".
A key feature is that there was no Registry of designs at this time, so you could not register the design. Hence you had to mark each piece. Protection against copying was time limited and in the very early days was 2 months. I need to check how the time frame grew longer over the years.
A big change came in 1839 with the arrival of the Copyright of Design Act, which extended protection to any article of manufacture and established a registration system. A similar marking on the each piece produced was still required, which limited its popularity with potters, although interestingly Ridgway were early adopters of this protection.
In 1842 the Design Act tidied up the whole process and introduced the "simpler" diamond registration device and the pottery industry embraced the new system of registering designs, whether they were shapes, patterns, decoration or whatever. From memory the intitial period of protection was 5 years, which could be extended by a further 3 and then later 7 years and an extension of a further 7. I need to check that!
In theory, you could not register a design that had already been published, so registration needed to come first. I am not sure what the position was with a design published prior to the introduction of the Act, could you register it and publish it afresh? Certainly, Spode for example regsitered their Greek design in 1914 (yes 1914) whereas it had been first published in 1806.
As a general rule, once the Design Act was in place, if a design was intended to be registered, I think you can assume that the design did not appear until it had been registered.
Yes, some pieces were not marked with the registration diamond, some potters still applied the diamond long after the registration had expired, some potters copied the design of others the moment registration expired and potters going out of business or stuck with an unpopular design registered or not would sell the printing plates on to other potters. Quite a few permutations.
I think I will pause there.
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