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Dummett Copp’s attorneys are able to offer a full range of services to assist you in protecting your designs and enforcing your intellectual property in relation to designs.

Designs, in the sense of Intellectual Property protection, relate to features of shape and configuration, or surface pattern or ornament. Two types of protection for designs exist: registered designs and unregistered design rights.

Registered Designs

Registered Designs protect features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process. Features which are dictated solely by the function which the article has to perform are not protectable.

Unlike patents, a valid application to register a design can be made up to 12 months after the designer has shown the design in public.

An application to register a design is made to the Designs Registry at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) or to the Community Designs Office (EU IPO), with representations (drawings or photographs) that show clearly the features of the article which are to be protected.

A Registered Design lasts for an initial period of five years, and is renewable for further five year periods up to a total of 25 years.

To take action against an infringer of a Registered Design it is necessary to satisfy a court that the infringer has dealt in the course of trade with an article to which the Registered Design, or a design not substantially different, has been applied. It is not necessary to show that copying has taken place. Registration of the design in your name is evidence that you are the owner. Because of these factors, it is usually much simpler to enforce a Registered Design than an Unregistered Design Right.

Unregistered Design Right

Unregistered Design Right protects design features of shape and configuration of the whole or part of an article, provided that the design is not “commonplace” in the design field at the time of its creation. Unregistered Design Right protects industrial designs and other designs, whether or not these designs appeal to the eye.

As the name suggests, Unregistered Design Right is not acquired by registration, but is acquired automatically when a design is created. It is a form of copyright applicable in the United Kingdom and Europe, but not generally available in other countries..

Unregistered Design Right lasts (in the UK) for 10 years from the year of first marketing. In the last five years, anyone who wants a licence to use the design can have one, on terms set by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) if the parties cannot agree terms. Under European provisions, protection is only for 3 years.

To take action against an infringer of an Unregistered Design Right, it is necessary to satisfy a court that you are the owner of the design, and that the infringer has copied the design or a substantial part of the design (as opposed to having created a similar design independently).

Obtaining Protection

Registered designs, and to some degree unregistered design rights, can therefore be used to protect the appearance of a product, and for many businesses this can be as important as, if not more important than, protecting other aspects of intellectual property.

These rights are available both through the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and through the Community Designs Office (EU IPO) for the whole of the European Union.

Obtaining the correct protection for your design or knowing how best to enforce that protection can be difficult, and our attorneys are able to recommend the best option for your needs. 

Dummett Copp attorneys are able to assist directly in obtaining UK and International registered designs and are also able to assist in obtaining design protection in countries throughout the world (including the EU) through our network of foreign agents.

For further information or to discuss how we may assist your business, please contact us.