Registered designs can protect three-dimensional and two-dimensional designs and can be a one-off design. The design is protected across all sectors and is not restricted to the product to which it was originally applied for example typefaces and designs for plates or cars. Parts of articles can be protected as designs, provided that they are visible in normal use. A design must be new. An identical or very similar design must not have been disclosed anywhere in the world prior to the application. The designer does have a 12-month grace period, however after disclosure in which to file his application for a design. The design must have “individual character” and it must give a different overall impression from previous designs. The design need not have artistic merit. Specific designs are excluded, namely computer programs, features which are solely dictated by the product’s technical function, and “must fit” features (that is, features that are necessary to allow an article to fit another article). Modular systems are allowed. Protection can last for 25 years, and the procedure for registration is relatively low-cost and quick, making it an attractive form of protection.
Whilst a copyright need not be registered in the UK, individual’s or businesses who wish to safeguard the purchase/ transfer of their copyrighted works can