Guide

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.

You can protect 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.

You can also protect unregistered designs in the European Union (EU). The term of protection is limited to three years. Registering a design in the UK or the EU can give you more protection.

Protecting your designs throughout Europe

To protect your design for five years in all EU countries, you can apply for a registered community design at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The right is renewable for up to 25 years.

Protecting your designs 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.