What are design rights?

Design rights protects the appearance, the shape and/or configuration of objects – so how your product looks for example. Design rights arise automatically and can also be registered.

Unregistered design rights automatically protect your design for 10 years after it was first sold or 15 years after it was created (whichever is earliest). Registered design rights can last up to 25 years (if you renew every 5 years), gives you a registered design number and makes it more straightforward in protecting your design against infringement.

Why would I want design rights?

Design rights can help you to stop other people copying your designs. This means you can stop other people from copying how your product looks.

You can also licence or sell your design rights, as a way to utilise and exploit your creativity.

What qualifies as a design?

A design must be:

  • be new
  • not be offensive (e.g. feature graphic images or words)
  • be your own intellectual property
  • not make use of protected emblems or flags (e.g. the Olympic rings or the Royal Crown)
  • not be an invention or how a product works (that patent instead
  • You cannot protect the functionality of a design – eg a chair that folds down more quickly than others of the same kind.

Find out more information on design rights from the UK IPO website here and watch a video from a guest lecture on design rights from Alice Stagg

Fashion Design – Free inspiration or worth protecting? on Vimeo.

Image credit: Hedvig Larsson: www.hedviglarsson.com/work