Withers & Rogers - Expertise - Services - Design Copyright
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Our experts are experienced in all aspects of copyright and the protection and enforcement of rights in industrial designs.

Design rights

Design rights protect the appearance of products and may be either registered or unregistered.

Registered design rights

We advise clients to seek registered design protection where the appearance of a product is commercially important.

A UK registered design covers the UK only and it is usually sensible to obtain a single registration called a Community Design or European Design to provide protection across the EU. Both can be kept in force for up to 25 years and can be used to protect computer icons, logos and typefaces, as well as the shape or ornamentation of a variety of bespoke or mass-produced articles. US attorneys may want to think of Community designs as being a “European design patent”.

Unregistered design rights

In the UK, the appearance of any functional item is automatically entitled to unregistered design right protection in the EU. However, this right is only effective against acts of copying and in most cases lasts for 10 years. Automatic design rights can also be enforced in other parts of the EU but the term of protection is typically much shorter than for registered designs and may require more evidence to enforce.

The masking or topography of semiconductor products is also protected by a particular kind of design right called the semiconductor topography right.


Copyright extends to musical, literary, dramatic and artistic works, including computer software, engineering drawings, maps and photographs. Our attorneys can assist in establishing appropriate procedures for recording and marking your copyright works.

Database rights

Collections of data in paper or electronic form can be protected under database rights. Online databases of individually accessible items, such as multiple pages on a website, are also covered by database rights.