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 in the UK 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(contours, colours, shape, texture, material,etc.). 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. 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 that is already in the public domain.
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.
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. We can assist with design searches and registration covering the UK, EU (Registered Community Designs) and other parts of the world.
Call us on 0161 435 6212 or email us here, if you have a Registered Design issue you would like help with.