UK design rights, as the name suggests, are put in place to ensure that designers’ intellectual property is protected. This is very important. If you don’t have protection in place, you will be unable to reap the commercial benefits of your own work, and you’ll have no defence against copying or unauthorised use. The Registered Designs Regulations 2001 clearly set out the things you’ll need to consider and the process you’ll need to follow.
1 – Is your design “novel”?
In order to register a design, it needs to be substantially different from anything else that has gone before. The test of whether a design is “novel” enough to possess “individual character” is whether an informed user of the product made from your design would recognise it as something new.
2 – Can the design be used to manufacture a product?
The design itself needs to be practical, in the sense that it could be used to produce an industrial or handicraft item. These don’t have to be mass produced. Designs for one-off pieces or representative icons can also be protected under the Regulations.
3 – Is the design eligible for registration?
Certain types of design are not eligible for registration – for example, computer software, or designs that deliberately prevent the use of spare parts that are attached to it.
4 – Is it more than 12 months since your design was first publicly displayed or used?
You must apply for design rights registration within 12 months of its first public outing. This is a reversal of the old rules, which stated that you needed to register before you could display the design. Although this makes things more flexible for the designer, it also makes the whole business of registration more urgent. Once your design is in the public consciousness, it runs the risk of being copied, so you need to move fast.
5 – Do you require Europe wide protection?
The Regulations allow you to register your design across the EC, as a Registered Community Design. This gives you protection for 25 years. Otherwise, registration gives you exclusive rights over your design for 5 years, which can be extended to 25 years if you renew the rights after the initial period.
Our IP Solicitors are intellectual property specialists – call them today on  42300