Registered design rights in the UK and EU
Registered design rights in the UK and EU

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

  • Registered design rights in the UK and EU
  • Relevant legislation
  • Scope of registered design protection
  • Application procedure
  • Infringements
  • Defences
  • Proceedings
  • Criminal liability for infringement of a UK or EU registered design
  • Advising clients launching new designs
  • Benefits of obtaining registered design protection

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.

A registered design right can protect the appearance of the whole or part of a product. The scope of registered design rights includes protection for three-dimensional shapes and two-dimensional design features such as colour, surface decoration and texture. This enables protection for features of products where aesthetic features are important, such as clothing.

The European Designs Directive (Directive 98/71/EC) harmonised the requirements for national registered design protection in all EC (now EU) Member States. It was incorporated into UK law through amendments to the Registered Designs Act 1949 (RDA 1949), which governs UK registered design rights.

The Community Designs Regulation (Regulation (EC) 6/2002) brought into being the registered Community design (RCD) which covers the whole of the EU.

Essentially UK registered designs and RCDs are the same in terms of scope of protection and duration. The key difference is that a UK registered design provides protection only in the UK while an RCD provides protection throughout the EU.

For information about the impact of Brexit on RCDs (and