Introduction to designs
Introduction to designs

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

  • Introduction to designs
  • What is a design?
  • EU and UK registered design rights—registering a design
  • Unregistered Community designs
  • UK unregistered design rights
  • Practical considerations

This Practice Note provides an introduction to design law and covers the four different types of design right that exist in the UK: UK registered designs, UK unregistered design right (also known as ‘design right’), registered Community designs (RCDs) and unregistered Community designs (UCDs).

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.

For more information about the registration of designs and transactions involving designs, see: Design transactions and management—overview.

For more information about design disputes, see: Design disputes—overview.

What is a design?

Design rights protect the shape, configuration or appearance of the whole or part of a product or article (rather than its functional aspects). Design law is intended to stop other people making products which are made to the design of or create the same overall impression as the original design. The number of designs registered in the UK and EU is increasing each year and consequently there is more design litigation, though cases are far fewer in number than those for patents, trade marks and copyright. Design law is sometimes considered complicated and