FAQs: Design Protection

Explore design protection law with our frequently asked questions. This resource has been meticulously crafted to address your queries related to design protection. It illuminates the concept of design protection, the registration process, the extent of its safeguarding measures, and the consequences of infringement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a registered design?

A registered design is a type of intellectual property protection that safeguards the visual appearance of a product or part of it. This includes lines, contours, colours, shapes, texture, materials and ornamentation. It gives the owner the legal right to prevent others from using the design without their permission.

How does an unregistered design differ from a registered design?

An unregistered design right can automatically protect your design for up to 15 years from when it was first recorded or sold, but only within the UK and only if the design was original and not common in the relevant field. This means that during this period, others cannot copy your design without permission. However, it's important to note that unregistered design rights only cover the shape and configuration of the design, not the surface decoration.


On the other hand, a registered design provides broader protection. By registering your design, you gain exclusive rights to it for up to 25 years, as long as you renew the registration every 5 years. This additional level of protection ensures that your design is safeguarded from any potential infringement, even if a competitor does not directly copy your design, giving you peace of mind and allowing you to exploit its commercial potential fully.

How do I register a design?

You can apply to register a design with the Intellectual Property Office in your country. This usually involves submitting representations of your design, a completed application form, and payment of a fee.

Can I register a design that has already been disclosed?

Generally, a design should be registered before being publicly disclosed to ensure it meets the novelty requirement. However, in some countries like the UK and Europe, there is a 12-month grace period in which you can file for a registered design after the design has been disclosed.

How long does it take to register a design?

The process can take as little as one month if there are no objections. However, it may take longer if there are objections or if the Intellectual Property Office requires further information.

What is the cost of registering a design?

The cost of registering a design can vary depending on the country and the number of designs you wish to register. It's best to check with the Intellectual Property Office in your country for the most accurate information.

Can I register a design outside of my own country?

Yes, you can apply for registered design protection in other countries. This can be done either nationally or through the Hague System, which allows you to register a design in multiple member countries with a single application.

What can I do if my registered design is infringed?

If your registered design is infringed, you can take legal action against the infringer. This can result in the infringer having to pay damages or an account of profits, deliver up or destroy infringing articles, or cease their infringing activities.

Can I sell or license my registered design?

Yes, you can sell or license your registered design to others, which can serve as a valuable source of income. By doing so, you not only monetise your design but also grant others the legal right to utilise it within the boundaries of the licensing agreement. This opens up opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and further exposure for your design in various industries.

Can a registered design become unregistered?

A registered design can expire if it is not renewed every 5 years. If the design is not renewed, it will no longer be protected under registered design law but may still be protected by copyright or unregistered design rights. It is also possible to request that a registered design be cancelled in some countries if, for example, evidence comes to light that shows the design was not new or original when the application was filed.

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