Design rights

While the internet brings many benefits to businesses, it has also made it easier for unscrupulous people to copy and exploit the latest designs. Protecting your designs will enable you to maintain a competitive edge and safeguard your income.

Our specialist European design attorneys can help you protect your work through your own registered designs and unregistered design rights in the UK, the EU and further afield.


Some countries provide unregistered design rights which automatically provide protection for the appearance of a product or other design. However, not all countries provide for unregistered design rights and, if they do, the rights tend to last for only a short period of time. In addition, unregistered design rights tend to be similar to copyright in that it is necessary as a first step to show that the third party actually copied your design. This is often a stumbling block when trying to prevent a third party marketing something similar to your own products.


If the value of your product is linked with its appearance, then you should consider registering the design of the product. A registered design enables the owner to prevent others from making and selling products that have the same or a similar design. The right is an exclusive right in that it is not necessary to show that the third party copied your design: independent production of the same or a similar design will infringe a registered design. In addition, registered designs can be in force for long periods of time, up to 25 years in many countries. A registered design can also serve as a business asset that supports the value of your company and can be exploited commercially. In short, a registered design can be a valuable form of protection.


How we can help

To be successfully registered, most countries require that the design is new and sufficiently different from existing designs. We can advise you on whether your design is likely to meet this test.


A registered design confers a territorial right, limited to one or more countries. Once we understand the international extent of your actual and target markets, we can advise on the best approach to securing protection for the design, whether this is via one or more of:

  • a UK national registered design, which covers the UK only;
  • a German national registered design, which covers Germany only;
  • a Registered Community Design (RCD), which provides protection throughout the whole of the European Union; or
  • elsewhere in the world via local national registered designs in other countries and/or international designs.


We can also advise you on how to avoid infringement of registered designs and unregistered design rights that are owned by third parties.

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