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Protecting Your Intellectual Property - Registered Designs

Written by Christina King on 07 September 2007

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Registration of a logo by way of a registered design can provide a viable alternative trade mark registration or a useful second line of protection in respect of a logo which has or will be registered as a trade mark.

In terms of the overall design of a logo, registered design offers a much wider scope of protection than trade marks as registration is not limited to specific categories of goods/services; the only drawback is that it will not protect any words, which form part of the logo, in themselves, this properly being within the remit of trade marks.

The two main criteria that a design must pass in order to qualify for registration are that it must be new and have individual character. ‘New’ in this sense means that there must be no existing identical design or a similar design which only differs in immaterial details. While ‘individual character’ means that it should give a different overall impression to informed users than any other design which has previously been made available to the public.

As part of the above the design must not have been disclosed to the public prior to application i.e. shown at an exhibition or offered for sale. There is a 12 month grace period prior to application in respect of this to enable testing and to gauge potential interest in the product. However the design will not be protected against infringement during this period. Therefore it is safer to apply for registration as soon as possible.

In order to ascertain whether your design satisfies these requirements you should consider how you created the design, were you influenced by an existing work or have you seen anything similar else where. Provided you are fairly satisfied that the design is your own independent creation you should then consider when exactly the design was revealed to any third parties in order to check that it is within the grace period.

It is possible to register a design at either UK level or as a Registered Community Design which provides protection for your design in all 27 member states of the EU.

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