Design FAQs

What is a design?

‘Design’ in this context means the appearance of all or part of a product. This can include its lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials, or its ornamentation. Both registered and unregistered rights are available to protect new designs with individual character.

Why do I need a design registration?

A design registration provides a monopoly in the commercial exploitation of the design, which prevents anybody else from using and making money from your design. Typically, unregistered design rights come into existence automatically (in the UK and Europe) when you create an original design. However, these are not ‘monopoly’ rights; they are only infringed if you can prove that someone copied your design. They don’t provide protection against someone who independently creates a similar design. A design registration does. Plus, a UK or European Community Registered Design lasts up to 25 years, whereas those rights that come into existence automatically cover a shorter period (five years in the UK and three years in Europe).

Can I get a single worldwide registered design?

Unfortunately not. Generally speaking, the government in each country grants design registrations and you’ll need to apply to each country in which you want protection. There are systems that simplify this process, such as the Hague System, but you will still need to take steps to obtain protection in each country of interest. One notable exception is the Registered Community Design (RCD), which provides a single registration giving protection in all countries of the European Union.

You’ll have a six month ‘priority period’ from the date you file your first application to decide whether or not to pursue protection overseas. If your overseas applications are filed within this period, they will be treated as though they were filed on the same date as your first application.

Should I conduct a search before i file an application?

Although not essential, it’s always sensible to conduct searches prior to filing an application or commercially exploiting a design. Intellectual Property is essentially the same as other types of property, and most people would never buy a house without having some sort of survey conducted. Different types of searches can be conducted depending on your invention and circumstances.

The searches answer questions like:

  • Whether your design is available for registration.
  • Whether you’ll be able to use your design without infringing the rights of others.

In many territories, including the UK and Europe, applications for registered designs won’t be substantively examined before the registration is issued, and so conducting a search may be the only way to find out whether a registration is (or will be) valid.

How do I apply for a registered design?

Before we can advise you on searches and the application procedure, we’ll need to see your design (e.g. a photograph or good quality drawings), as well as an indication of the goods on which it will be used and the name of the person or company who will own the registration. Give us a call today and we can get the process started.

How long will the registration process take?

Thanks to online filing, a design can be registered in Europe in just 24 hours. The registration procedure for UK designs generally takes between two and four months if there are no objections.

How much will a registered design cost?

The cost can vary, but registering a single design in the UK will typically cost around £550, with £250 for each additional design included in the same application. In Europe, the costs are around £1000 for a single design and £300 for each additional design in the same application. These estimates exclude VAT. Once we’ve seen the design in question, we can offer more precise estimates and advise on the cost of conducting a search.

Significant additional costs will be incurred if you require protection overseas, but we can advise on this once we know the specific countries of interest to you.

We can assist you in all aspects of design protection and enforcement. If you have any questions please contact a member of our team or contact us at