This site uses cookies to help make it more useful and reliable. Our cookies page explains what they are, which ones we use, and how you can manage or remove them.

Design right

The term "Design Right" refers to the specific legal protection available to unregistered designs in the UK.

There are specific differences between Design Right and Registered Designs.

Registered Designs give you exclusive rights in a design, in the UK, for up to 25 years. You can stop people making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting, using or stocking for those purposes, a product to which your design is applied. You can protect two-dimensional designs or surface patterns as well as shape and configuration with a Registered Design.

By comparison, Design Right gives you automatic protection for the internal or external shape or configuration of an original design, i.e. its three-dimensional shape. Design Right allows you to stop anyone from copying the shape or configuration of the article, but does not give you protection for any of the 2-dimensional aspects, for example surface patterns. Protection is limited to the United Kingdom (UK), and lasts either 10 years after the first marketing of articles that use the design, or 15 years after creation of the design - whichever is earlier. For the last 5 years of that period the design is subject to a Licence of Right. This means that anyone is entitled to a licence to make and sell products copying the design.

If you are the owner of a design right subsisting in a design, you have the exclusive right to reproduce the design for commercial reasons by making articles to the design or by making a design document recording the design for the purpose of enabling articles to be made. If anyone else carries out these activities without your permission, they may infringe the design right.

However, it is more difficult to prove infringement of an unregistered Design Right as you must be able to prove it was copied, or that the potential for copying existed.

Infringement proceedings must be brought before the Courts, however some disputes concerning the subsistence of design right can be referred to us.

Does design right give protection abroad?

No, Design Right is effective only in the United Kingdom.

Designs may however be protected in all countries in the European Union through the Unregistered Community Design.

Other kinds of protection

This table compares registered and unregistered design rights as well as other kinds of protection which may apply to designs.

Protection may also be available in other countries under, petty patent/design patent or design registration systems, but protection will not usually be given automatically.

How do I get design right protection?

Do all designs qualify for design right?