Use design to improve your export potential

Protecting your designs overseas


Product designs, your name and logo, inventions and trademarks make up your business' intellectual property (IP). These are possibly the most valuable assets your business has and you need to protect them.

Design protection in the UK

You can protect your business' design rights automatically in the UK without the need to register. The right will be valid for ten years after you first sell your design, or 15 years after you create it - whichever is earliest. Read about unregistered design rights.

Registered UK 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. Read about registered designs.

Design protection in Europe

Unregistered design rights in the European Union (EU) last three years. Registration gives you a longer term of protection of five years - renewable for up to 25 years - throughout all the EU countries. Read about registered community designs in Europe.

Design protection worldwide

Beyond the EU, you usually need to protect your IP rights by registering with individual countries, although some countries may allow you to extend your UK protection after completing certain local formalities. See a list of countries that extend UK IP protection.

Alternatively, you can register your designs through the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. You will secure protection for your design in all EU countries and other overseas countries that have signed the agreement.

For more information, see design right and registration.