What is a registered design?
The Intellectual Property Office UK gives the following definition: “A registered design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines contours, shape, texture, materials of the product or its ornamentation.”
Basically the design
- Must be new
- Must have individual character
Registering a design protects all aspects of the design (for example, both the product’s distinctive shape and its decoration) and gives the holder exclusive rights to use the registered design for up to 25 years subject to the payment of renewal fees.
Designs in the United Kingdom can also be protected by Registered Community Design.
What happens if I don’t register a design?
You will still be protected by:
- Unregistered UK Design Right – Covers shape only and not any two dimensional elements of the design such as pattern or decoration. Design Right protects a design in the United Kingdom until the earlier of 15 years from first creation of the product or 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first marketed and sold.
- Unregistered Community Design Right – Unregistered community designs are protected across the EU for up to three years after the design was first made public. Unregistered community design rights also protect the two dimensional elements of a design such as a decorative pattern.
- Copyright – Artistic works only; 70 years from the death of the creator.
Design Right and Copyright are automatic. No artistic etc. worth or value is needed. However; if someone uses a design without permission, defending unregistered rights can be difficult.
The rights holder would need to prove:
- the work was original
- they created it first
- any copyrighting was deliberate
If you can prove all these things, you can try to stop the infringement or reach an agreement with whoever’s using your design without permission.
Hints and tips
- Search all jurisdictions in which you wish to obtain protection – most must be searched individually. They will usually cover registered not pending designs.
How we can help
For advice and guidance on registered designs, business information or other Intellectual Property, book a one-to-one with one of the team, or join one of our Intellectual Property workshops.
Book onto our upcoming events here.