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Within the UK, design protection law applies to the shape and appearance of an entire product, or certain aspects of it, such as decorative details, graphics or packaging.

David Ebert is a large Southampton law firm that is proud to represent and support innovation and creativity across all sectors of the UK economy.

We have diverse expertise in the various elements of design protection law. And we apply this law and the protection and assertion of design rights to meet the specific needs of our ever-growing client base. We are always forward-thinking in our approach and will endeavour to seek out original and tailored solutions with the explicit aim of reaching the right outcome and keeping costs to a minimum.

Registered Designs vs Unregistered

Design protection law applies to both registered and unregistered designs. Unregistered design rights will still constitute intellectual property rights and apply automatically to creation for either 10 years after it was initially sold or 15 years after its original inception, depending on which was the earliest.

If you need to assert your unregistered design rights, you will need to prove that you were the creator of the design as well as when you created it. It is important therefore to keep accurate records, including signed and dated copies of drawings, photographs or receipts. Our expert design protection law solicitors can keep these documents securely on your behalf to ensure that your rights will be protected in the future.

Registration Of Design Rights

In many cases, design protection law allows for the registration of a design right, which provides a higher level of protection against infringement. Registered design rights protect the design and prevent other people from using or exploiting it for 25 years, and you also have the right to renewal every five years. Another advantage of registering your design is that this will make it easier to protect and defend your rights if an infringement ever arises.

To be registered, a design must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The design itself must be new and original
  • The design must constitute your intellectual property
  • The design should not form offensive material
  • It must not use emblems of national flags

Submitting Your Design Rights

Your specialist design law solicitor at David Ebert can arrange a search of the registers and advise upon all aspects of design registration. You will need to submit illustrations that show the design exactly as it appears in plain sight and set against a plain background, with no aspects of it hidden from view. All illustrations should use the same media, for example, you may submit these entirely in the form of drawings or photographs, but not a mixture of the two. For online applications, a maximum of 12 illustrations may be included; if more is required, it will be necessary to apply by post.

The Intellectual Property Office will assess the application within two weeks, and if there are no objections, the design will be registered. If a complaint is raised, you must respond within two months; and you also have a right of appeal if you disagree with the final decision or if this is unfair.

When Your Rights Have Been Infringed

If your design rights are violated by someone else, it is essential to seek legal advice immediately, and we will be able to help you. A distinct advantage of having registered your design right is that you will not need to show that the infringement was intentional. For unregistered design rights, you will not only have to prove that the design is your creation but also show that it has been deliberately copied. Either way, it will be necessary to produce as much evidence as possible to assert your position.

Litigation may be costly and time-consuming for everyone involved, and we will look at all of the facts and provide advice and support. We aim to reach the desired outcome in a way that will preserve your rights and protect your intellectual property interests.

Expert Legal Advice

Design protection law is a complex area, and the outcome of a case will often depend upon the facts. Whatever the situation, we will provide sound and effective solutions and reach a resolution as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, to minimise the impact of what has happened on you and your business.

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