Q&As

How do I protect my design?

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Published on LexisPSL on 04/12/2013

The following IP Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How do I protect my design?
  • In a nutshell
  • To register or not to register?
  • Consider other intellectual property rights
  • Before applying
  • Consider costs
  • Post-registration
  • Enforce

In a nutshell

If you have designed something such as a toy, a piece of furniture, a gadget, an item of clothing or other industrially-produced item and you believe your design to be truly new and original it may qualify for protection under design law. If your design qualifies for legal protection, it means you may be able to stop others copying certain aspects of your design. Design law can seem confusing because there are four different design rights you can rely on—two are UK-based (registered and unregistered) and two are European (also registered and unregistered).

To register or not to register?

UK unregistered design right (UDR) arises automatically and protects the shape and configuration of an item and therefore registration of your design may not be necessary. However, registration has many advantages that might outweigh the relatively modest costs involved. Registered designs:

  1. last for up to 25 years whereas UDRs last between 10 and 15 years

  2. protect 2D features such as surface decoration as well as 3D features (UDR only protects 3D). If you want to protect a pattern applied to fabric for example, you should register your design

  3. if your registered design is used by someone else, the burden is on the other party to prove they have not in

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