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Design Registration

Design Registration & Design Registration Rights

What are design registration rights?

Design rights are intellectual property rights that protect the visual design of objects; i.e. the visual perception of an object by a viewer. Design plays an important role in everyday life: influencing the shape or decoration of man-made products such as household utensils and ornaments, furniture,  fabrics, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive; in each case, making them easier or more attractive to use. For a design to be protectable it must have particular characteristics:


  • it must display features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which are applied to an article which has "eye-appeal" (aesthetic appeal);
  • the appearance of the article must be such that it matters to consumers as a quality distinct from its function. Design protection does not extend to features which are prompted purely by function (i.e. solely dictated by the function which the article has to perform), such as the seat of a chair (although the particular shape of the seat may be protectable).

What are your design registration rights?

Under UK and EU law you can have both registered design rights and unregistered design rights. An unregistered design right in the UK, which exists automatically, can last up to 15 years from creation or 10 years from the date of first legitimate marketing of the article using the design.  It does have limitations both in its scope and in the means of enforcement of those rights.  An unregistered EU design right lasts up to 3 years and can extend to protect ornamentation and fabric designs. By contrast, a registered design right can last up to 25 years. Outside the UK the extent of the particular rights and the time periods associated with unregistered and registered designs tend to vary from territory to territory.

Design registration rights can either be registered as separate national designations or under the umbrella of a European Community design. Similarly, your name may already belong to someone else (as a registered trademark) without you knowing it. If that is the case then you will run the risk of  generating goodwill in a trademark that you do not even own. Have you ever checked to see whether you are infringing an existing registered trademark? The last thing you would want is to be sued for trademark infringement. Not only could this expose you to unwelcome legal fees and court costs but you might also be saddled with the cost of having to change your company name and rebrand your goods and services.

View our Step-by-Step Guide to Design Registration.

If you'd like to find out more information on Designs, please read our Design Registration FAQ.

For information on International Designs, please read our International Design FAQ.

Find out the cost of design registration.

If you'd like to proceed to design registration, please contact us for a quote.