Designs are important. Whether you have designed the latest must-have mobile phone, dress, engine or teacup, designs pervade the work of innovative companies and their products. Our Designs group have extensive experience in obtaining protection in the UK, Europe and further afield.
Registered designs and unregistered design rights can protect a huge range of products, ranging from the aesthetic to the functional.
Headed by Richard Worthington, the Designs group has a wealth of expertise across many industries such as product design, engineering, fashion and packaging. We believe designs are more than just supplemental to patents and trade marks; used properly they can be the backbone of your IP strategy and a valuable asset to your company.
The members of the group have extensive experience in obtaining protection in the UK, Europe and further afield, such as so-called “design patents” in the USA and China.
We have acted for various clients in design litigation, in respect of both unregistered and registered rights. Litigators in our Contentious Practice group are able to represent our clients in a highly cost effective manner.
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 and copyright
In the UK, the appearance of any functional item is automatically entitled to unregistered design right protection. 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.
Our attorneys can assist in establishing appropriate procedures for recording and marking your copyright works.
We believe that understanding our client’s design is key to providing the best and broadest protection. We will not simply act as an intermediary between you and the registration authorities. Instead, we will work with you to identify the key features of your design, and tailor your registered design applications to ensure that it is those important features that are protected.
If you are concerned about third party registered designs and design rights we can also provide you with freedom to operate searches and analysis.
Community registered designs and US design patents are being litigated with increasing frequency. We aim to be at the forefront of the developing law by reviewing the latest cases as they are published. This allows our advice to reflect how design protection is interpreted by the courts.
For further information please contact the group's lead attorney: