A registered design protects the appearance of an article. Registration of the design gives the owner the right to take legal action to stop others from trading in products to which the design has been applied in the jurisdiction where the rights exist.

Where can I get one?

Designs are territorial and generally need to be filed on a county by country basis.  Community Designs provide design protection across the whole EU using a single application. UK Design registration is available through the Community Designc and a seperate UK Design which is applied for vial the UK INtellectual Property Office.

What does a registered design protect?

A registered design protects the appearance of an article. Registered design protection can be obtained for the lines, contours, colours, shapes, textures, materials or ornamentation of the whole or a part of a product which is an industrial or handicraft item. This includes complex products (which are made of multiple parts), packaging, get up, graphic symbols or icons.

To be valid, the design features must be “new” and have “individual character” at the date of filing the application to register the design. A design is considered to be new if it has not already been made publicly available anywhere in the world. However, earlier use or publication of a design which would not reasonably have been known in Europe, or any publication of the same design (such as by marketing of the product) by the applicant in the twelve months before filing the application, will be ignored when considering whether the design is new. It is important to file an application to register a design as soon as possible, to obtain an early filing date, and within twelve months of the first sale of a product incorporating the design.  In order to have “individual character”, the design must create a different overall impression when compared with earlier designs. In assessing whether a design has individual character, the amount of design freedom that the designer had when creating the design will be taken into account



Frequently Asked Questions

Yes – your invention may be patentable and it is important that a Patent application is filed before you make any non-confidential disclosure of the invention, if you wish to secure valid Patent protection in the UK.  This is also the case in other European Union countries and indeed most countries throughout the world.  It is also of note that any disclosure of an invention in a foreign country can be relevant to the validity of a Patent obtained in the UK, and vice-versa.  However, once a Patent application has been filed, you are safe to disclose the invention, should you wish, although we always recommend that any disclosure is under confidential circumstances, if possible

All types of registerable Intellectual Property Rights (Patents, Trade Marks, Registered Designs) are territorial.  So, for example, a UK Trade Mark or UK Patent does not provide any rights outside of the UK.  However systems such as the Community Trade Mark Regulation and European Patent Convention exist which provide an opportunity to obtain uniform protection in all countries of the European Union on the strength of a single application process.

We can advise on the best strategy for protecting your idea worldwide.

It is true to say that the UK and European Patent Offices will not allow a computer programs to be patented where the patent application relates only to the computer program as such. Although similar exclusions apply, based on our experience it is much easier to patent software in the USA.  We can provide expert opinion on the patentability of your software.

However, if the program produces a specific technical effect or brings about a technical improvement to a technical field, it is possible to obtain patent protection. For example, a new and inventive system that provides computer control for manufacturing equipment or scientific apparatus should be patentable. In addition, a computer program that improves the internal workings of a computer, some software relating to graphics and file or database structures may be patentable


In addition, your company will own the copyright in the code that has been written by its employees and should have agreements in place to ensure that it owns the copyright of work done by consultants. Copyright will prevent the complete or substantial copying of the code, but will not protect the underlying inventive concept which may be protected by a patent

Patent protection is not available in relation to the aesthetic appearance of an object.  However, if the design is novel, it is possible to secure Registered Design protection.  Whilst a Design Registration cannot provide protection in relation to any functional features, such as how the product is manufactured or how it operates in use, it does provide the ability to prevent others from copying your design.  Protection for a design in the UK can be obtained either by securing a national UK Design Registration, or a European Community Design Registration, which covers all countries in the European Union.