Design rights is one of the most complex areas of IP law – particularly because what may appear to obviously apply as a design right may be a patent, or vice versa. Not separating these two correctly can cost time and money, and this is why you need a team of experts to help you understand your choices and how to obtain design rights.
What qualifies for a design right?
- An icon that you may have made for your app or website
- A pattern that you’ve made, such as one for clothing
- A design you’ve made for a product you’re selling – for example, you may have set up a company that sells food, and this food is sold in specifically-designed and decorated boxes
Design rights in the UK are separated into two categories – Registered Design Rights, and Unregistered Design rights.
Unregistered design rights apply automatically – they apply to the shape of a three-dimensional design if some criteria are met. This is a form of intellectual property protection, and you rarely need to worry about this type – unless your design rights are infringed, in which case you may have a legal case against whoever infringed these rights, and Sterling Law can help you build this case. A common misconception is that these unregistered design rights also apply to 2D objects, such as a pattern. Whilst EU regulations do cover these, EU design rights have to be registered separately from UK ones.
Registered design rights are different; you need to register the design and pay a fee, but they give more protection and cover 2D objects as well. Unregistered design rights only last 15 years, but registered design rights last 25 years, as long as you renew them 5 times.
Sterling Law can help you with renewal, creation, and prosecution; you may have an especially strong case with registered design rights, as these do not have to be intentional to be prosecutable – they just need to have happened with your design being registered first. Contact us for more help and details, and if your design does not fit Design Rights descriptions, you may be eligible for a patent instead, which we are also experienced and recommended in as a firm.
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