Registered Designs protect ‘the appearance of the whole or a part of a product’.
This includes, in particular ‘the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or its ornamentation.’
In order to qualify for registration the design must satisfy two main criteria:
1. it must be new: This means that there must be no existing identical or similar design which only differs in immaterial details.
2. It must have individual character: It should give a different overall impression to informed users than any other design which has previously been made available to the public. As part of the above the design must not have been disclosed to the public prior to application i.e. shown at an exhibition or offered for sale. There is a 12 month grace period prior to application in respect of this to enable testing and to gauge potential interest in the product. However the design will not be protected against infringement during this period. Therefore it is safer to apply for registration as soon as possible. The two main issues for consideration in relation to the above are: 1. Were these designs created more than 12 months ago. If they were this will defeat the requirements that the design be new and have individual character. In this regard you should also consider whether there was any cross over between the existing designs and any previous designs. 2. The patterns of the fabric will form an integral part of the registration. Therefore do you own the rights in the fabric itself or just the style of the garments.
Registration In terms of registration you have 2 options – UK or European Community. One of the current advantages of the Community system over the UK is that it allows multiple designs to be submitted within one application, provided the items are of the same type, with associated filing fees being reduced slightly after the first design. The UK is currently implementing changes to its system so that this method of filing will also be available for UK applications in October 2006. In terms of you products as displayed above clothing is one class and jewellery and bags are both in individual classes as well, therefore separate applications would need to be made in relation to each category.
After Registration Once the design is registered you should place the registered design number on the label/packaging. This is not essential but failure to do so will limit the remedies available to you in relation to infringement; i.e. you will only be entitled to an injunction not damages. The registration lasts initially for 5 years. It can then be renewed. It can be renewed at intervals of 5 years up to a maximum of 25 years on payment of the relevant fee.