Before you can protect your design, you will need to make sure that it is unique and not infringing on anyone else's intellectual property rights.
Registered design search
You can check the following design registers to see if earlier designs exist:
You can also ask the Intellectual Property Office to search for you for £25.
Even if a design isn't registered, someone else could still hold unregistered design right. Your search should be as comprehensive and as thorough as possible.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to get an expert such as a patent attorney to conduct a more in-depth search.
Copying other people's designs
If you make, sell, import or use articles that infringe someone else's design right or registered design, it can cause serious damage to your business.
It may result in legal action being taken against you and you could be ordered to pay considerable costs and damages to the person whose designs you have infringed - even if you haven't intentionally copied them.
If you intentionally copy someone's design without the consent of its owner, whilst knowing or having reason to believe the design is registered, you could be found guilty of a criminal offence.
It is good business sense to check that any design you intend to use as part of your business doesn't already belong to someone else.
Defending your designs
If you're suspecting someone of infringing your rights, find out how to defend your design against infringement.