A design right may arise automatically under laws which regulate unregistered designs or copyright, although in most instances it will be beneficial to register a design. The applicant for registration will usually be the person who created the design, unless they did so in the course of their employment or were commissioned to create it for a third party.
It is important to gain sound legal advice prior to entering into the registration stage. This will allow you take account of important considerations which can potentially take up a lot of time and money. A solicitor will be able to conduct a thorough search of existing design rights to ensure there are no similar designs in existence. Should a design already exist, a solicitor will be able to provide advice on alterations to your designs which are more likely to allow registration to proceed.
An application is submitted using form DF2A and sent to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), together with fee sheet forms, a single copy of the illustrations in the design for registration and the correct fee. The IPO will then confirm receipt and provide the applicant with an application number and filing date.
The illustration to be provided should be as clear and accurate as possible. Where the design is a three-dimensional shape, the IPO recommends that a series of pictures from different aspects be provided. A partial disclaimer can be made where a design relating to part of a product is subject to the registration application, or where certain visual features, such as colours or materials are being disclaimed.
An examiner will, upon receipt, ensure that the application complies with all legal formalities. The application will then be put forward for examination and a certificate of registration will be sent to the applicant. Where a third party has raised objections to registration, the IPO will afford the applicant two months to provide representations that the proposed design does not justify the objections raised or to take action to overcome the objections.