COUNTRY : UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN
& NORTHERN IRELAND
CAPITAL : LONDON
LANGUAGE : ENGLISH
MEMBER : EUROPEAN UNION COMMUNITY DESIGN, BERNE CONVENTION, WIPO, WTO-TRIPS, PCT, PARIS CONVENTION, G 8, G20, COUNCIL OF EURPOE, OECD, WTO, COMMONWEALTH OF NATION
Protection to Design is provided at a two tier level in United Kingdom:
Direct Filing with National Patent & Trademark office
Kindly refer Treaties for the Community Design Registration.
Kinds of Designs Rights:
There are 2 ways of obtaining designs rights in the UK which are:
i. Unregistered Designs Rights – which is automatic the moment a design is created.
ii. Registered Designs Rights – which is by way of the application process.
i. Unregistered Designs Rights:
In the UK, design rights are acquired the moment a design is created despite it not being registered. Taking the following precautions help in preventing infringement of the design:
A note recording the date:
- when the design was created.
- when articles bearing the design were made available for sale, hire.
- when disclosure regarding designs was first made.
- depositing a sample or a copy of the design drawings with a bank or a solicitor.
Term of Protection of unregistered design rights:
Unregistered designs are protected for 15 yrs. from the end of the calendar year in which design was first recorded or incorporated into an article.
10 yrs. from the end of the calendar year in which articles made from the design were made available for sale / hire anywhere in the world.
Rights of the unregistered Designs Owner:
Owners of unregistered designs rights are given the exclusive right against copying of the designs by others without prior consent.
Designs protected by unregistered design rights:
- Designs that are original
- Designs not copied from an existing design
- Designs that are not common place
Designs not protected by unregistered design rights:
- Designs that are commonplace, everyday or ordinary
- Designs having features enabling one product to be functionally fitted or aesthetically matched to another.
Aspects of unregistered designs protected:
- Any aspect of the shape of the design.
- Any configuration of the whole or part of the article.
Aspects of unregistered designs not protected:
- Surface ornamentation and other 2 Dimensional aspects of the design.
- The article itself.
Enforcement of unregistered design rights:
To enforce unregistered design rights, proof stating that design was intentionally copied by the infringer or that there existed potential for copying the design is required.
Coverage provided to unregistered designs:
Protection is provided to unregistered designs only in a limited number of territories.
WHY PROTECT DESIGNS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM? Patent law deals in ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of a company or organization as it deals with inventions that are not easily accessible by the general public. Designs along with Trademarks on the other hand, are the ‘visual medium’ which aid in brand projection, recognition, association and retention by existing and potential customers. To prevent rivals from copying industrial designs, it is therefore an important and strategic aspect in the protection of intellectual property rights. Therefore, as with all IP, it is better to begin protection of designs at the earliest before disclosure with the general public.
BENEFITS OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN REGISTRATION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: Certain countries that follow cumulative protection of Industrial Designs by Copyright as well as Design laws have the ‘Unity of Art’ principle that needs to be followed meaning, entitlement to copyright for applied and other art work shall be determined through the same criteria.
In today’s highly impulse driven and temperament market, industrial designs provide the requisite edge to push products into consumers’ psyche. Such is he craving for fashionable and well crafted products that looks can often be equally or more important that the products’ functionality itself.
Registration of Industrial Design Rights becomes a valuable asset which gives the following benefits:
• A substantial return on interest (ROI) as the popularity of the product is directly proportional to its reproduction and counterfeiting thus enabling swift legal action in preventing copycats and frauds thereby ensuring that the design is not diluted.
• Infringement of designs can help owners obtain damages and recover costs for the same.
• Registration of designs can help owners work on bettering their designs through Research and Development (R&D) on bringing out superior industrial designs thus making it harder to knock off or scale up manufacturing by infringers in order to copy the original designs.
• Registered designs can be sold, licensed, franchised which can all earn royalty. The same can also be used as a collateral to secure loans.
• Industrial Designs complement even strengthen Trademarks hence making brand attention, brand association and retention, brand recall and usage much easier and interesting.