Design Rights Management


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.”

Learn more about our design rights practice

Difference between copyright and design rights?

Copyright can be used to protect a design but, you cannot use design rights to protect a work that should be copyrighted. Copyright protects literary and artistic works. Copyright protects text and creative works in the finished design.

How do you get your designs ready for UK registration?

1.The designs, along with with a description of what they are for example 1 of 40 Male Canvas Holdall; 2 of 40 Patchwork Cross Body Female Handbag. The representations must be any of the following: (A) line drawings (B) CADs’ (computer software generated images) or (c) photographs. *NB You cannot use all 3. You can only use one of the three types of formats per design.

2. Representations must show the design as it appears to the eye.

3. All representations must show the design in isolation.

4. Do not include any technical detail such as borders/labelling/dimensions.

5. Show at the minimum the rear view, front view, and side view of the design.

6. Only text showing the view designations front, back, side view (you must use the same format photograph, CAD, or line drawing) for each design are allowed on the representations.


General Information

In the UK, it takes three months to get a design registered. Two months of processing, one month of registration. The UK fee calculator can is at The EU fees calculator is here
So if someone infringes your design rights and/or copyright, you may claim for damages.


We are a full-service information rights and intellectual property law practice. For a consultation with us use our contact form or email Our sole principal Peter Adediran is a UK licensed lawyer, therefore focuses on UK and EU. Our consultant Richard Jefferson is a California licensed lawyer, therefore advises on US and Californian law.

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