Designs protect the look or appearance of an article, which must be different in some way. They may be registered or unregistered (watch a VIDEO).

My invention: should I file for a patent or register a design?:

Registered designs require formal registration, but the process is much less onerous than that required for patents, and a registered design may be registered and enforced relatively quickly.  The duration of  a registered design  varies between countries. For example: in GB and Europe a registered design can last for up to 25 years from filing, but renewal fees are required for every five year period.  Conversely in the US a design patent lasts for 15 years from filing (old law – 14 yeas from grant) and no renewal fees  are required.

Unregistered designs (where available) are related to copyright and are used by some countries to protect designs (3D articles) that are excluded from copyright protection in that country. Protection for this type of design is available in GB and the European Community. Protection arises automatically when ”first marketed” or “recorded” either in a design document or model. Infringement occurs if the design is copied, except for those features that are required to interconnect with another article e.g. a plug and associated socket.  Generally unregistered designs only last for about 3 to 10 years.

We file GB,  European Community and International (Hague Agreement) Registered Designs and we can also help you decide what is the most appropriate protection available for your new design.