A UK registered design gives protection for up to twenty-five years as long as the necessary renewals are undertaken every five years. In terms of the scope of registered design protection, designers can protect various aspects of their designs, such as shape, configuration, pattern, materials and both two- dimensional and three-dimensional features of a product or design.
To register and fully protect a design legally, it must be new. Difficulties can arise where it is similar to an existing design. In legal terms, the test is whether similarities are so strong that the differences are immaterial. As you may imagine, this is not always easy to clearly determine, and many legal disputes over designs arise where businesses seek to protect previously unregistered designs. In a competitive marketplace, disputes can arise for tactical and commercial reasons, so it’s worth ensuring you have specialist legal advice from the outset.
Of significant benefit to designers is the fact that a designer has up to 12 months from first exhibiting or marketing their work before making a final decision as to whether to register the work.