Protecting a design is both simple and complicated. At the most basic level, protection may beavailable automatically on creating the designs.
The first form of automatic protection is through UK design right, which falls under the umbrellaÂ of copyright. However this is limited in several ways and so even if such protection is availableÂ for the design in question, it is weaker than the other forms which are available.
The second form is through European Unregistered Design. This is potentially available to aÂ greater range of designs that UK design right but as the period of protection offered is only 3Â years, it is still a more limited form of protection.
The next level of protection is through registering the design. This can be done on either a UKÂ level or an EU level. The advantage of doing so is that for a relative small cost you gain aÂ certificate which shows the date the design was filed together with the substance of the design.Â
This protection is also potentially available for a longer period, the maximum duration being 25Â years although this is dependant on a renewal fee being paid every five years. However it isÂ important to think of this upfront as the application for registration must be made within 12Â months of the design being made available to the public. Therefore it is not possible to rely onÂ the automatic forms and then try to change to the registered system once the time limit on theseÂ expires.
One of the downsides that affect both of the above forms of automatic protection in fact lies inÂ the fact that they are automatic. This is because the lack of any official record can make itÂ harder to prove that you own the right in the first place. This means that it is still importantÂ to think about protecting the design up front as it will be necessary to establish the date onÂ which the design was created for the right to have any weight.