Design right and registration
There are two main ways of protecting designs in the UK - through unregistered design rights or design registration.
Design right is automatic and applies when you record your original design in a document. It protects the shape or configuration of your product against direct copying and lasts either ten or 15 years, depending on when the product is first sold or created.
Registered designs protect the appearance of the whole or part of a product, including lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials or ornamentation. The rights arise on registration, last for up to 25 years and offer stronger protection against infringement.
This guide explains how you can use unregistered design right and registered designs to protect your intellectual property. It outlines the key differences between design right and design registration, highlights the advantages of protecting your designs, and tells you how to register a design in the UK, Europe and further afield.
Some areas of design law have been affected by EU Exit. For current information on these, see: changes to unregistered designs from 1 January 2021, changes to EU and international designs and trade mark protection from 1 January 2021 and international EU protected designs after 1 January 2021.