Design assignment and licensing
Design assignment and licensing

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

  • Design assignment and licensing
  • Protection of designs
  • Assignment
  • Licensing
  • Licence of right (UK unregistered design rights only)
  • Other ownership and licensing structures

Protection of designs

Designs are capable of being protected in a number of ways in the UK and, depending on how they are protected, they can be assigned, licensed or otherwise transferred. This Practice Note relates to:

  1. UK registered designs

  2. registered Community designs (RCDs)

  3. unregistered Community designs (UCDs)

  4. UK unregistered design rights

For more information about the various forms of design protection available, see Practice Notes: Registered design rights in the UK and EU, Unregistered design rights in the UK and EU and Comparison table for design protection available in the UK.

For more information about the impact of Brexit on design protection, see Practice Notes: Brexit—IP rights and Design rights before and after Brexit—comparison table.

For more information about the interaction between design rights and other intellectual property rights, see Practice Notes: IP right comparison table and Copyright in designs. In particular, for information relating to transactions involving artistic works, see Practice Note: Copyright assignment and licensing.


An assignment transfers ownership of the design from one entity to another, so that the assignor is no longer the owner of it and therefore cannot use the design unless the assignee grants a licence back to the assignor.

Assigning a design in this way is appropriate where the proprietor does not wish to have a continuing interest in it, or where