According to the Industrial Property Act 2001, an industrial design is defined as “any composition of lines or colours or any three-dimensional form whether or not associated with lines or colours, provided that such composition or form gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and can serve as a pattern for a product of industry or handicraft”.
Registering your designs helps safeguard your business interests with more legal protection. It’s quite a tricky process though, so we’re here to help.
To register a design and fully protect it legally, it must be new. Difficulties can arise where it is similar to an existing design.
In legal terms, the test is whether similarities are so strong that the differences are immaterial. As you may imagine, this is not always easy to clearly determine, and many legal disputes over designs arise where businesses seek to protect previously unregistered designs.
In a competitive marketplace, disputes can arise for tactical and commercial reasons, so it’s worth ensuring you have specialist legal advice from the outset.
Whilst we always recommend registering your designs where possible, in certain circumstances you can still take action to protect your work in the event of an infringement even if you only have unregistered rights.
This is because unregistered rights are similar to copyright (but expire far more quickly), in that a level of legal protection against copying automatically arises on the creation of novel designs.