You can buy, sell or transfer ownership of intellectual property rights, including registered and unregistered design. This is known as an 'assignment'.
Assignment of design rights
Assignment is different to licensing. When you license your designs, you give the right to someone to use your design without infringing (eg to make or sell a product that incorporates your design).
While you can generally negotiate licensing terms, design assignments normally transfer all of the design rights from the original owner (the 'assignor') to the other party (the 'assignee'). This means that the original rights' holder no longer owns the design.
A licence may be granted formally, informally or may arise by implication. However, assignment of rights:
- must always be recorded in writing
- must be signed by (or on behalf of) the person assigning the right
Key considerations in a design assignment
If you are assigning your design rights to someone else, you should think about:
- appropriate warranties as to title
- rights of action, including the right to sue for past infringements
- further assurances regarding documentation or acts needed to give effect to the transfer
Design assignment recordal
If you sell or transfer ownership of your registered design to someone else, you must tell the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), so that they can record the change in the register of designs. This includes any change of ownership because of company mergers. Find forms to record your assignment with the IPO.