Design right and registration
A registered design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product, resulting particularly from the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of a product or its ornamentation.
Design registrations are territorial rights. A UK registered design gives protection only in the UK. Registered community designs cover member states of the EU.
If you need to protect your design in other countries, you can file separate applications in those territories or file an international application with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under the Hague Agreement to cover a number of different territories.
What does UK registered design cover?
A UK registered design covers two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional articles and ornamentation. This 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.
Design registration in the UK lasts for five years initially, but you can renew it every five years for a maximum of 25 years.
What designs can you register?
To register your design, it must:
- be new - ie must be substantially different from known designs
- have individual character - ie give an appearance of originality
- not be offensive
- not feature certain protected flags and international emblems - eg the Olympic symbol
What designs can't you register?
You can't register a design on how a product works and there are limitations in applying for a design to the interior of a product.
If you have invented an innovative product, you may be able to apply for a patent to protect its function, operation, manufacture and/or material. For more information, see how to get patent protection for your business.
Why should you register your design?
Registering a design can offer the design owner much stronger protection of their work than just unregistered design rights. Registration can:
- help protect any aspect of your design, eg both the product's shape and decoration
- give you a longer term of protection
- give you the exclusive right to make, use or stock any item incorporating your design
- make taking legal action against infringement and copying more straightforward
You can show that your product has registered design protection by marking your product with the relevant registered design numbers.
From 1 October 2017, you can also mark your product with a web address, instead of the registered design number. The webpage must be freely accessible and clearly set out the registered design number(s) relevant to that product.
Giving notice of your design rights by marking your product could help stop accidental infringement. It may also help you get damages if someone does infringe your right. See more on the advantages of protecting your designs and key differences between design right and design registration.