Many designs benefit from automatic protection by virtue of unregistered design rights but registering your valuable designs is often a sensible precaution because:
- a registered design, being easily searchable and referable on the product, in your product literature and so on, serves as a visible deterrent and statement of intent to would-be imitators
- registered designs have a long lifetime – twenty five years in the UK and Europe, subject to renewals every five years
- whereas unregistered design rights are infringed only where there is actual copying of your design, registered designs can be infringed by designs that are independently created, without actual copying taking place
- registration can be a quick and economical procedure.
The range of subject matter that can constitute a design is very broad. The design may be for a three dimensional product, but it may instead be two dimensional, as for example the design of a computer icon or of a fabric. It may be designed to appeal to the eye or it may be utilitarian in nature so long as the design is not dictated solely by the function to be performed.
Protection in the UK can be obtained either through a UK or European registration. The cost difference is not great so the option of pan-European protection is often favoured.
We can easily give you a costing upon request.
The key part of a registration is a set of representations of the design, which can be drawings or photographs. We can help with preparing these if need be.
Unlike patents, design applications in Europe and the UK are subject to minimal examination and they can proceed very quickly.
There are various reasons why a design registration may prove – if later tested in court – to be invalid, but UK and European authorities do not look for these issues themselves and consequently applications often go to grant without any post-filing challenge or charge.