Intellectual property: the basics
IP rights: designs
A design protects the visual appearance of a product or a part of a product. This appearance can be affected by shape, contour, arrangement, textures, materials and colours.
How to protect your designs
There are two ways of protecting your design in the UK:
- by design right - which is automatic and protects only the shape and configuration of a three-dimensional item
- by registered design - which gives you total rights of ownership over the appearance of a product or a part of the product, and protects both three-dimensional and two-dimensional features of a design
You must avoid infringing on another owner's design right. If you want to use someone else's design, you may be able to come to an arrangement with the rights owner.
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 and changes to EU and international designs and trade mark protection from 1 January 2021.
For a quick introduction to design registration, watch the Intellectual Property Office video below.
Invest NI Helpline0800 181 4422
IPO Information Centre0300 300 2000