Registering your designs in the UK does not automatically protect them abroad. There are three ways to protect your designs outside the UK. You can:
- make a national application in individual countries
- use the Hague System to apply to a number of different countries or territories at the same time, through a single application
- apply for a registered community design (RCD) covering the European Union
Protecting your designs in Europe
If you trade in a single EU country, you may want to register your design just in that territory. This would give you the exclusive rights within that country but it won't be prevent anyone from copying your design in other EU countries.
If you do business in more than one EU country, it makes financial and practical sense to apply for a registered community design.
An RCD is a design registration which is valid in all European Union member states. RCDs are protected for five years and can be renewed a maximum of four times, giving a maximum of 25 years of protection. You can apply for an RCD with the EU Intellectual Property Office.
Important: RCDs will continue to extend to the UK during the Brexit transition period until the end of 2020. Once this period expires, RCDs will no longer be valid in the UK. On 1 January 2021, the UK IPO will create comparable UK designs for all right holders with an existing RCD. These rights will be recorded on the UK register and treated as if they had been applied for and registered under UK law. Find guidance on registered community designs at the end of the transition period.
Claiming a priority date for design registration
If you apply for design protection in another country within six months of applying for the same design in the UK, you may be able to claim a priority date. This means that the date of your UK registration will be accepted as the date on which you filed the later application.
Priority dates only apply in countries which have signed the Paris Convention, or are members of the World Trade Organization. Find out more about the Paris Convention.
Read more about protecting your design overseas.