Comparison tables for design protection available in the UK
Comparison tables for design protection available in the UK

The following IP practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Comparison tables for design protection available in the UK
  • Design rights
  • Design rights available prior to exit from the EU
  • Registered rights—pre-Brexit
  • Unregistered rights—pre-Brexit
  • Design rights available after exit from the EU
  • Registered rights—post-Brexit
  • Unregistered rights—post-Brexit
  • Further information

Design rights

The tables in this Practice Note set out the key differences between the various unregistered and registered design rights available in the UK, both before and after the UK’s exit from the EU.

The four design rights available in the UK prior to IP completion day (ie including during the implementation period for the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK and EU) are set out below.

Registered design rights:

  1. UK registered designs

  2. registered Community designs (RCDs) (in force across the entire EU)

Unregistered design rights:

  1. UK unregistered design right (also known as ‘design right’)

  2. unregistered Community designs (UCDs) (in force across the entire EU)

Each of the above rights differs in terms of qualifying criteria, scope and duration of protection. UK registered designs, RCDs and UCDs have a significant amount in common with each other, while UK unregistered design right is quite distinct.

The Designs Directive (Directive 98/71/EC) harmonised the requirements for national registered design protection across the EU. It was incorporated into UK law through amendments to the Registered Designs Act 1949 (RDA 1949), which governs UK registered designs.

UK unregistered design rights operate under a separate regime under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988).

Regulation (EC) 6/2002 established the RCD and UCD, which are unitary rights, covering the whole of the EU.

Following IP completion day, the UK is no longer part of the Community designs

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