Design for start-ups

Design IP protection for start-ups


If your business creates an original design, it is considered your intellectual property (IP). You may want to protect it from unauthorised copying or misuse by other people.

An original design can include your:

  • brand
  • logo
  • invention
  • products and services
  • written or artistic material created by you or your organisation.

Different types of IP rights can effectively protect your designs, including:

Protecting your designs

There are two main ways of protecting designs in the UK:

Design right is an automatic right which allows you to protect your designs in the UK and prevent others from copying or misusing them. If you register a design, you may be able to strengthen and extend protection to other countries of any design right or copyright protection that may exist automatically. See how to protect your registered designs.

Making money from your designs

Design, just like any other type of intellectual property, is your asset. You can sell it, licence it and use it to increase your revenue or as security.

Design sets you apart from the competition and embodies your unique selling points and marketing potential. Protecting your design allows you to maximise its value to your business. Read about protecting intellectual property.

Avoid copying other people's designs

As well as protecting your own design IP, you must make sure you are not infringing the IP of others. If you do, the IP owner can take legal action against you.

It's a good idea to carry out design or trade mark searches to check that someone else hasn't already come up with the same idea as you. See how to avoid infringing other people's IP.