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Intellectual Property

Designs

A design right may be unregistered or registered and is essentially the right to prevent the unauthorised copying of a design or part of it.

What are design rights?

Design rights arise automatically on creation of an original design, much like copyright. These are often referred to as unregistered designs. Basically, anything relating to the physical appearance of a product can be registered as a design.

Registered design rights

A design right can also be registered.  UK and community registered designs last for 5 years from application and the period can be renewed 4 times.  Registration gives you the exclusive right to make, sell, distribute and licence the design and gives you a right of action against infringers. Registrations are only valid if the application for registration is submitted within a limited period after the product has been made available to the public so it is important to act promptly.

Registration is relatively quick and inexpensive and we can guide you through the process from start to finish.

How to protect your design rights

Designs rights are valuable and should be protected against infringers. Enforcement does not have to involve going to court. We take a step-by-step approach which often yields excellent results without a legal claim.

If a legal claim is required there are specialist courts which can deal with disputes relatively quickly and economically.

Avoid becoming an infringer

Creating new products in a crowded marketplace can attract allegations of design infringement. This makes it important to search the register and take advice on whether your prospective product could infringe. Minor design changes might prevent trouble.

We can help with:

  • Advising on ownership of design rights in your product
  • Applying to register a design
  • Searching the register of designs and assessing whether a product will infringe an existing design right
  • Licensing and assignment of designs
  • Taking action to prevent infringement
  • Defending infringement claims

Our design right experience includes:

  • Providing assessments of whether new products will infringe unregistered and registered designs
  • Successfully obtaining registered design rights in the UK and EU
  • Bringing infringement claims on behalf of a furniture manufacturer

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