Automotive part representing new designs with individual character in industrial products and articles


Design can make a product appealing and thereby increase the marketability of the product. 

A design may result from features in two dimensions, such as patterns, lines or colour, or from features in three dimensions, such as shape, configuration or texture.  Hence designs are applied to a wide variety of products, for example household and leisure goods, personal articles such as watches and jewellery, textiles, electronic products and graphical user interfaces for computer programs.  Indeed, design may form part of the packaging for a product or a graphic symbol forming part of marketing material.

To qualify for protection in most territories a design must be at least original if not new and be primarily of an aesthetic nature.  Design rights provide no protection for technical features of a product with patent protection being appropriate for such features.  Therefore a product may be eligible for both patent and design protection with these different intellectual property rights operating in a complementary fashion.

Design protection allows the owner to stop competitors from benefitting commercially by using the design or a closely similar design, e.g. by manufacture, use or sale of a product incorporating the design.  For the most part design protection requires registration with an intellectual property office with the registration being valid for a set period of time, which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  In view of the territorial nature of registered designs protection must be sought in each territory of interest to the owner.  In certain territories, such as the UK and Europe, design protection arises automatically without registration with the specific examples of the UK and Europe both providing for registered and unregistered design protection.  However it should be noted that unregistered rights offer a weaker form of protection than rights involving registration.

A considerable amount of work, skill and endeavour may be involved in design.  Design protection in both registered and unregistered forms provides a way of safeguarding the owner’s investment in his design.

We have considerable experience in advising on design protection and in the preparation and prosecution of registered design applications in the UK and abroad for direct clients and overseas associates.

For further advice on design protection please contact us on: [email protected].