Design defences
Produced in partnership with RPC
Design defences

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with RPC provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Design defences
  • Defences available in registered design infringement actions
  • Defences available in unregistered design infringement actions

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—IP rights.

There are four key design rights in the UK:

  1. UK registered design

  2. UK unregistered design

  3. Community registered design

  4. Community unregistered design

For further information about the nature and subsistence of these four rights, see Practice Notes: UK registered and unregistered designs and Community (EU) designs.

UK and Community registered designs are governed by the Registered Designs Act 1949 (RDA 1949) and the Community Design Regulation (CDR) respectively. UK and Community registered designs both protect, for up to 25 years, the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or its shape or ornamentation. In the case of Community registered designs, protection is granted throughout the EU.

UK unregistered design is governed by Part III of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) and it protects, for a maximum of 10–15 years, the shape or configuration (whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article.