The term design means the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or its ornamentation.
A registered design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product. The product is required to have an unique appearance by virtue of one of its features. It is also possible to register a design showing the ornamentation alone, for example a pattern for use on a Chandelier.
Design registration gives the proprietor of the design the right to stop others from creating designs which are very similar to the proprietors design within the same Jurisdiction in which such a design is protected.
Like all Intellectual Property Rights, a registered design can be a valuable asset for an individual or a business, however it is important to remember that registration gives you protection for the visual appearance of the product, and not for what its made from or its function.
Generally, for a design to be registrable, it must be 'new' and have 'individual character'. Note also that, there are some unregistered rights that can protect designs, but these last for shorter periods of time and have limited scope.
For the UK, a design is new if no identical (or similar) design exist in the public domain, in the UK or the EU. For instance, a design for the appearance of an aesthetic sign would probably not be considered new if it had been stocked in a warehouse prior to the date when an application of a registered design is filed. There are a few exceptions to this, and it also depends on in which jurisdiction protection is sought. It may also be possible in certain circumstances to claim priority of a design filed in another country.
Individual character means that the overall impression created by the design on a person should be
different from the impression created by any other design in the public domain.
If you have come up with a new design, the first step is to get a professional search done, which will hopefully give you an idea as to whether other very similar designs
already exist and have been published. At Mancunium IP, we can assist with design searches and registration covering the UK, EU (Registered Community Designs) and other parts of the world. For advantages of a Registered Community Design, see below:
Advantages of a Registered Community Design (RCD) include:
Europe-wide protection: with a single registration (valid in 27 countries).
Low cost: In comparison to individual protection in individual countries
The Protection gives a monopoly right. No requirement to prove copying has occurred in order to establish infringement as is the case with Unregistered Community Designs. Further, in addition to the relatively simpler application procedure (in comparison to other rights), it is possible to apply for more than one design in a single application.
Longer Protection period: (a maximum of 25 years from filing) unlike Unregistered Community Designs which last for only 3 years.
A single renewal fee: Payable once every 5 years.