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What is a registered design?

Written by Jane Coyle on 12 July 2011

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The legal definition of a registered design is: 'a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product or a part of a product in the country or countries you register it.'

For the purposes of registration the definition is: 'the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation.'

Protection is therefore given to the way a product looks. The appearance may consist of a combination or one of the following: shapes, colours and materials.

A three dimensional product such as an industrial or handicraft item (but not a computer program) or two dimensional ornamentation for example a pattern on a product, or a stylised logo can be registered.

In all cases the term product can mean things like packaging, get up, graphic symbols, typographic typefaces, and parts of products intended to be assembled into a more complex product.

A Registered Design can be a valuable intellectual property right. It can form the basis of an infringement action and can help in stopping others from creating designs which are too similar to the protected design.

For a design to be valid it must be new and have individual character.

A design is considered to be new if no identical or very similar design has been published or publicly disclosed in the UK or the European Economic Area (EEA).

However a registered design can be applied for in the UK up to 12 months after the designer first discloses it.

The term identical covers designs whose features differ only in immaterial detail.

Individual character means that the appearance of the design, known as the overall impression, is different from the appearance of other already known designs.

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