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Design Protection in the UK

Written by Paul Bicknell on 24 October 2010

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A registered design confers a monopoly on the proprietor in that design. Designs are available for the whole or part of a article. Protection for your design can be obtained as well in the unregistered form; that is provided that the design is inter alia original and non-common place.

This article will briefly outline unregistered designs and registered designs.

Unregistered designs

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) section 213 provides that a design is a property right which subsists in accordance with this Part in an original design. A design means the design of any aspect of the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article.

A design right does not subsist in: (a) a method or principle of construction, (b) features of shape or configuration of an article which- (i) enable the article to be connected to or placed in around or against another article so that either article may perform its function, or (ii) are independent upon the appearance of another article of which the article is intended by the designer to form an integral part, or (c) surface decoration.

There is no requirement of registration for the unregistered design; similar to copyright the unregistered design will subsist on creation. Though from a practical point of view the proprietor does not know for certain whether he has an unregistered design.

Registered designs

Registration is the is a positive step towards securing your monopoly in your design. Registration is made to the UKIPO.

Protection lasts for five years from first registration and may be renewed for up to 25 years.

It is advisable to register a design because the registered right is much stronger than the unregistered right. Unregistered designs last for 10 years. Registered design litigants do not have to prove that the design has been copies whereas under unregistered designs you will have to show that the design has been copied.

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