Design right and registration

Key differences between design right and design registration


The table below summarises the essential differences between the protection offered by the design rights and the design registration.

Some areas of design law have been affected by EU Exit from 1 January 2021. For current information on these, see: changes to unregistered designs from 1 January 2021changes to EU and international designs and trade mark protection from 1 January 2021 and international EU protected designs after 1 January 2021.

  Unregistered design right Registered design
What does it apply to? In the UK, it applies only to three-dimensional articles. In the EU, it applies to two- and three- dimensional articles. Applies to both two- and three-dimensional articles.
What does it cover? In the UK, it covers the shape and configuration of products, internal and external. In the EU, it covers the whole product. Covers the appearance of a product, resulting particularly from its lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials or its ornamentation.
When does it apply? Automatic right. Arises on registration with the Intellectual Property Office in the UK, or the EU Intellectual Property Office for EU applications.
How long does it last? Lasts up to 15 years in the UK and three years in the European Union. Lasts up to 25 years, subject to it being renewed every five years.
How do you enforce it? You have to prove that you hold the design and that deliberate copying has taken place in infringement actions. You don't have to prove deliberate copying in infringement actions.
How effective is it? Less likely to act as a deterrent against infringement. Also, difficult to establish for selling and licensing purposes. More likely to act as a deterrent against infringement and easy to sell or license.

Read more about unregistered design right and registered designs.