What is a registered design?

A registered design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product, resulting particularly from the features of lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of a product or its ornamentation.

These designs could be anything from patterns on textiles or plates to the shape of a car or the design of part of a product, such as a kettle handle. A registered design covers two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional articles and ornamentation.

What are the benefits of design registration?

Registering a design with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) gives extra legal protectionin that you are possibly entitled to sue infringers for damages whether the infringement is intentional or not. This protection is in addition to your design right (for unregistered designs), which is automatic. To register your design it must be:


have individual character i.e.give an appearance of originality

It gives you the exclusive right to make, use or stock any item incorporating your design and take action against those who infringe this right. It can be a very valuable piece of intellectual property that you can license or sell.

You cannot register designs concerned with how a product works and there are limitations in applying a design to the interior of a product. If you have invented an innovative product you may be able to apply for a patent. Design registration is territorial. A UK registration lasts for five years initially but can be renewed every five years for a maximum of 25 years.

Registered Community designs

By applying for a Registered Community design (RCD) you can obtain registration rights which are valid throughout the European Union (EU).

Regulations ensure consistency between design registration systems in the UK and the rest of the EU. They also:

provide protection against groundless threats of infringement of an RCD in the UK

make it an offence to claim falsely in the UK that a design is protected as an RCD

EU companies can also, with a single application, obtain protection of a design not just throughout the EU but also in countries which are members of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs. This includes Turkey, Switzerland and the Ukraine.

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