There are two types of registered designs. A Registered Community Design that gives protection in the Member States of the EU and is governed by Council Regulation 6/2002/EC. Whereas a United Kingdom Registered Design as the name suggests only provides protection in the United Kingdom, is governed by the Registered Designs Act 1949(RDA)
Lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials can all be protected as part or whole of a product ((RDA S.1 (2)). Industrial items including parts of a product, packaging, get-up, graphic symbols and typefaces can be protected ((RDA S.1 (3)).
The design should be new, essentially meaning that no identical design has already put into the public domain. It must also have individual character this can be interpreted to mean that to an informed user it would give a different impression to previous designs.
However not every design can be protected there are exemptions. These include computer programs, designs that are against public policy/morality, protected emblems, features that are dictated by technical function and design features that are dictated by the need to interconnect with another product.
When the application is filed only an indication of the type of product is needed. The Registry will use the Locarno classification system to categories the design. This is so that it is easier to search for conflicting designs.
In the case of Crocs v Holey Soles Holdings 2010, Crocs lost its design rights as it had put the design into market in the US before applying for the application.
Once the registered design right has been granted the proprietor of the registered design has the right to block designs that do not give a different impression to the registered design. On the 1 October 2014 the Intellectual Property Act 2014 made it a criminal offence to intentionally copy a registered design. Procter & Gamble Co v Rekitt Benckister 2008 held that there needs to be a different overall impression to prevent infringement. There are exceptions for infringement for teaching, experimental purposes and non-commercial purposes.
If a Design has been successfully registered it will then be put into the Electronic Designs Journal and can be protected for up to 25 years, this is by way of renewal every five years.