Briefings > More on designs

Another form of intellectual property protection that businesses can avail themselves of is design protection. This covers the outward appearance of a product including decoration, lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials.

In law a ‘product’ also includes packaging, get-up, graphic symbols and typographic type-faces. Logos and three dimensional shapes that are being used as trade marks, therefore, might also be eligible for separate design protection.

If a product has a new shape or pattern it is worth looking into design protection.

In order for it to be registrable a design must be new and have what is called ‘individual character’. Once registered, the owner has an exclusive right to the design for a period of five years, renewable for further five year periods up to a maximum of twenty-five years (a trade mark, in contrast, is renewable each ten years and has no maximum life span). A registered design may be for the UK (and Isle of Man) only, or for the whole of the European Union (27 countries), or for other individual overseas countries.

What is the cost?

Please contact us to discuss our very competitive costs for the filing and completion of the registration procedure of a UK design registration and for a European or Community Design Registration.

Other forms of design protection

Designs, like copyright, may give protection ‘automatically’, even if unregistered. However, this design ‘right’ is only enforceable for a limited period (10-15 years in the UK, 3 years in the EU) and only if real copying has taken place and can be proven (which can be difficult!). This is unlike Registered designs which need not have been copied to be infringed. Registered designs are enforceable against designs which are identical or similar even if the latter were made without knowledge of the Registered design. Thus it is a real monopoly on a particular design for a limited period (much like a patent which is a monopoly for a limited period on how a technical idea or invention works).

Designs that are of an artistic nature with ornamentation are not protected by design right (although they may be by copyright!).

For more information on these matters please contact us at Cam Trade Marks.