Registered Designs

Frequently asked questions ​​​

Click to expandWhat is a registered design?

A registered design protects the outward appearance of an article. It has nothing to do with how the article might function or what it is called – simply how it looks. It can include such things as shape, texture and colours. This is sometimes referred to as “eye appeal”

Click to expandCan I tell anyone about my design?

In the UK you are allowed a “grace period” of one year before filing an application for a registered design. This gives you an opportunity to determine whether there is a market for it before deciding to register. It is important to understand, however, that not all countries allow this grace period and if you are thinking of applying for protection abroad disclosure in this grace period could affect subsequent foreign applications.

Click to expandWhat criteria must a design fulfil in order to be registered?

​A registered design must be new and have “individual character” – it must stand out from what is already known in the overall impression it gives. The shape or appearance must not be determined by how the product “works”.

Click to expandWhat does the application process for a registered design involve?

The application requires two sets of illustrations of the design (this can include photographs, and in cases such as textile designs, samples may be acceptable). There should be sufficient alternative views of the design to make it clear what you are wanting to protect.

Click to expandHow long does a registered design last?

A UK registered design lasts for 5 years and can be renewed up to a maximum of 25 years.​

Click to expandDoes a UK registered design protect my design abroad?

No. You would have to make applications in the countries in which you want protection. It is possible to make a single application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in order to gain protection internationally. You can also make a single application for a Registered Community Design which gives protection in all the member states of the EU. 

Click to expandWhat is unregistered design right?

Unregistered design right is an automatic right which exists as soon as the design has been created. It protects the shape or configuration of an original design against deliberate copying. It does not include 2-D designs or features which are there simply to enable one part of a product to fit into another part. It lasts 15 years from the creation of the design or 10 years from first marketing if this happens in the first 5 years. Obviously it is important to keep records to show when your design was first created.

Unregistered Community design right gives protection within the EU. It lasts for 3 years from when the design is first made available to the public. Obviously design right does not give as strong protection as a registered design.​

Click to expandIs there any free advice available?

Business & IP Centre staff will be happy to answer any queries you may have. We also run regular free clinics in conjunction with CIPA (The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys) where you can discuss your ideas in confidence with an attorney. Patent attorneys are qualified in dealing with all aspects of intellectual property, including designs.