An important and significantly under utilised area of intellectual property protection are registered and unregistered designs.

Design rights can cover a wide range of items including not only three dimensional objects such as furniture, packaging and equipment, but also textile designs, clothing, logos, sculptures and all sorts of other product designs.

Unlike patents that cover inventions and processes, design rights are all about the shape or appearance of something.

Like trademarks, there are some limited legal protections available for unregistered designs, but registration ensures that designs enjoy the best possible protection.

Unregistered designs in the UK benefit from the following protections provided they are new and original at the time of creation. UK unregistered designs can enjoy protection over the shape of products, but not the surface decoration. This type of protection can last for up to 15 years from the time the design is created, but only protects against copying and does not cover designs that are independently created.

Registered Designs can currently be registered under either just the UK registered design scheme, or as a Registered Community Design to cover all EU member states including the UK. Once a design is registered it can provide the owner with protection for up to 25 years, subject to renewal every five years.

We can assist with the registration, licensing and enforcement of design rights, and are happy to discuss any questions that you might have.