This guide is based on UK law. It was last updated in September 2008.
Applications are filed at the United Kingdom Designs Registry which is a part of the UK Intellectual Property Office, an executive division of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.
A UK Design Registration covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. A UK Design Registration is a statutory right governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It grants the owner a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of the product or its ornamentation.
To be registrable a design must be new and have individual character. To be new, the design is required to differ from known designs by more than "immaterial details". To have individual character a design must create a different overall impression on an informed user, who is normally a technically sophisticated user of the class of products and who is neither a designer or a manufacturer. Although a design application can be filed up to one year after the design has been made public, it is preferable that a design application is filed as soon as the design is created.
A Design Registration can last up to 25 years (the Registration has to be renewed every five years within the 25 year period).
The United Kingdom is a signatory of the Paris Convention. This allows "convention priority" to be claimed. This means that an individual or company in the UK who has applied for a patent in one of the other member states can rely on the first application date ("the priority date") to backdate any later filed applications they make in the UK to that date. Those later applications must be filed within six months of the first application.
Information required to file application:
- Full name and address of applicant;
- Country and state, if appropriate, of incorporation of the applicant;
- Two good representations of the design (including all views of design);
- Indication of the product to which the design is applied;
- Details of application on which Convention Priority is to be claimed, if any; and
- Partial disclaimer if appropriate.
Pinsent Masons has a dedicated Trade Marks & Designs Team which consists of qualified Design Attorneys. We can file and prosecute design applications across the globe.