Registered designs protect the outward appearance
of a product, rather than how it works. Design registrations are a cost
effective way of obtaining protection for new consumer products.
An industrial design is the outward appearance of the whole or
part of a product resulting from the lines, contours, colors, shape,
texture and materials of the product or its ornamentation. Designs can be
registered for many products, for example , handsets, toys, tools,
dispensers, cameras, office equipment, bathroom equipment, torches and
Designs protect the shape and appearance of a range
of products ranging from artistic works such as sculptures, industrial
products, furniture items, consumer goods, automotive components, furniture,
building structures, clothing items, and packaging. Almost any product which
incorporates some element of original design is potentially protectable by
Although most countries of the world have a protection regime for dealing
with industrial or commercial consumer designs, in general, design law is
not unified across different countries of the world.
In Europe, design rights can be divided into two categories: Unregistered
rights, where there is no official registration system, and Registered
rights, where the rights are registered with a national patent office or
regional industrial property office.
In general, unregistered rights grant a lower degree of protection with a
higher burden of proof for enforcement, compared with registered rights.
Therefore, even where unregistered rights exist it is almost always
advisable to apply to register a design, to achieve a stronger form of
right, for a longer duration.
In Europe, there are some exceptions as to what can be protected by design
rights. These exceptions center around features of design which are intended
to match or fit other commercial products, or which are dictated solely by
Generally, the scope of design right is judged relative to other previously
known designs in the same design field. Consequently, where a new design is
a significant departure from previous designs, a relatively wider scope of
protection can be expected than where a design is an incremental improvement
over a large body previously existing designs. Nevertheless, even in
congested design field such as the design of sanitary fittings, taps,
faucets and the like, it is still possible for innovative designers to build
up a formidable portfolio of registered and unregistered design rights to
establish a strong intellectual property position in the market place, at
We are able to file registered design applications in the UK and across
Europe as a single application. We also file registered design applications
elsewhere in the world through our network of associate industrial design attorneys
and agents. We offer comprehensive advice on the protection of
product design and design features, including labels, product shape and
At the development stage, we help you identify and safeguard potential
future design rights and navigate the rules on disclosure and grace periods
with an eye to achieving protection. We can secure the right protection in
the countries that matter to you, and aid in enforcing those rights, whether
registered or unregistered, against competitor encroachment. We have
internationally recognized expertise in handling United Kingdom and European
and assist in industrial design protection and enforcement worldwide.
Click here for filing an application for
registration of an industrial design in the United Kingdom.