Designs are a product’s appearance but the look and feel all count towards the design. All designs must qualify
as a new design because the design must be novel.
Design Rights Registration – Ownership
The creator owns the design but, there are exceptions. Exceptions include where a work is created by an employee while working. Ownership of a commissioned design may have to be assigned because the rights to the work may still be the creators.
Unregistered design rights
So there are registered and unregistered designs. Unregistered design rights like copyright are automatic but, that is not the default position with a registered design right. All unregistered design rights focus on the construction of a product like a shape and contours. Because unregistered design rights are a property right, they can be licensed, assigned and protected for ten years.
Registered design rights
Registered designs are protected for 25 years in the UK and EU. They are administered by the IPO in the UK. This prolonged duration of protection is the main advantage over an unregistered design. Registered designs are administered by OHIM in the EU. In the United States designs are protected as part of the patent system. So, you have so-called design patents US Design Patent Guide. The full definition of design in the US according to the United Trademark and Patents Office is summarised as:
“A design consists of the visual ornamental characteristics embodied in, or applied to, an article of manufacture.”