Design rights is the umbrella term used to refer to both registered design and unregistered design protection.
What is an unregistered design?
Also known as ‘design right’, UK unregistered design protection arises automatically (without the need for registration) and protects original designs of “the shape or configuration (whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article” against being reproduced. However, the scope of legal protection for unregistered designs is far more limited than a registered design. For example, UK unregistered design does not protect surface decoration.
Unregistered Community design protection lasts for three years from the date on which the design was made available to the public. UK design right lasts for up to 15 years from when the design was first recorded, or an article was first made from the design. However, where a product design is made available for sale or hire, the term lasts for 10 years from the end of the year in which that first occurred. In the last five years of protection, the designer of the UK design is obliged to grant a licence to anyone who wants to use the design.
What is a registered design?
Securing a registered design means that there is no ambiguity regarding ownership of your design. It gives you as owner an exclusive right to use the design and to prevent any third party from using any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression without your consent. Unlike unregistered design right, you also do not need to prove copying of your design and registered design protection lasts for up to 25 years.
How can our design rights lawyers help you?
We can help you navigate the complexities of design law through the different design protection regimes. Our team has extensive experience in the protection of two-dimensional and three-dimensional product designs. Examples of the designs we have protected include business logos, tartans, packaging, devices, jewellery, clothing and designer handbags but this list is not exhaustive.
But we can do more than just protect your designs:
- Identify whether your design is new or whether it may infringe existing designs;
- Advise if your design rights are being infringed and take enforcement action;
- Ensure you own the rights to a design if it has been created or manufactured by others;
- Defend any claims that you are infringing the design rights of others and what actions you need to take.
If you would like further advice about design rights, please call us on 0131 557 6450 or contact us online to arrange a free design protection consultation.