A registered design gives you exclusive rights in a design, which can take the form of two-dimensional designs or surface patterns as well as shape and configuration. These rights can last up to 25 years within the UK.
In the UK (as well as in Europe), the key requirements for designs to be registrable is that the design is new and that it creates a different overall impression in comparison to earlier designs.
A registered design applies to the appearance or part of a product whereas a patent is concerned with the function, operation, manufacture or material of the item.
A design right is an automatic right, much as with copyright, though it is considered somewhat less useful than a registered design right. Protection lasts for up to 10 years after the relevant product has been marketed, and up to 15 years from the date of design creation. 2D designs (drawings) do not qualify; these would be registered under copyright. In addition to the shorter duration of protection, there is a “knowledge” requirement which design owners must meet when claiming design infringement; that is, it must be proven that a competitor had knowledge of the relevant design when they were designing their allegedly-infringing product. This “knowledge” requirement does not apply to a registered design, because a registered design is a monopoly right.
In order to mitigate these risks, the owner/creator would need to record design related data in order ownership. It is not necessary to apply for this (in the UK) but for extra protection keep note of:
Fees – it costs £60 to register the first design and £40 for any other design in the same application
Timescales – the IPO will examine your application within 1 month and if there are no objections, your design will be registered immediately
If you are an innovative, forward-thinking company which frequently breaks the mould, design rights – whether registered or unregistered – may be crucial to differentiating your company within the marketplace. Metis Partners can help identify and value these unique assets with our IP Audit service. Additionally, we can help you utilise these assets in order to strengthen your position within the marketplace and provide you with advice regarding the most appropriate route to commercialisation.
If you’d like to learn more about how to maximise the value of your design rights, feel free to get in touch!