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Design Rights Advice and Protection

Everything you need to know about Design Rights

Do you want to protect the value of creative assets designed for your business?

Do you need to prevent other people from using your designs without your permission?


Design Rights protect the texture, contours, shape, materials and decoration of a design. They can apply to a wide range of products including packaging, graphics, logos and the ‘look and feel’ of products.

They can also be ‘Registered Designs’ (which are less valuable but still have some protection despite not being registered). Design Rights give you the right to prevent copying of your designs and to earn money from their licensed use.


How can we assist your business?

Our Intellectual Property lawyers can help you affordably and quickly to:

  • Identify which Designs you own or could own
  • Work out whether these designs can be ‘Registered’
  • Assist you to get them registered
  • Help you commercialise those Design Rights
  • Make sure that you are not infringing other peoples’ designs

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What are Design Rights and why are they important for your business?

Some elements of the design process can be protected by the law of copyright, however, copyright alone doesn't always offer enough protection for designs. Design rights are an underused element of intellectual property rights because they are not very well known or understood.

Our expert design rights LawBriefs are here to help you all the way through the registration process


In the UK, design rights are protected by two legal rights: registered design rights and unregistered design rights.

The Registered Design Rights Act, 1949 (RDA) provides for the whole or part of a design, including its contours, texture, shape, materials, colours or how it's ornamented. You can protect a broad range of products, including packaging, graphic symbols and individual elements that form part of a complex product (one composed of at least two replaceable component parts).

A separate regime exists under English law to protect unregistered original designs.  These rights arise under the CDPA that creates copyrights.

How can you register your Design Rights in the UK?

A registered design provides you with an exclusive right to use the design 'and any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression'.

The initial period of protection is five years from the date of registration of the design.

The registration can be renewed after that for further periods of five years each, taking the total length of protection under a registered design to 25 years. Renewal fees are £130, £210, £310 and £450 for each successive five-year period of renewal.

An application for registration of a design is made to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) where you set out what the design is and provide a representation of it. It's your responsibility to verify that these criteria are fulfilled and that you're not wasting your time in making an application for registration. A fee of £60 is payable for a single design to be published immediately. The cost of a deferred design is £40. Following registration, third parties can apply to cancel the registration on various grounds, such as lack of novelty and distinctive character or that you aren't the rightful owner.

Design Rights FAQs

How long do design rights last?

In the UK, only three-dimensional designs are protected as an unregistered design right for 10 years after it was first sold or 15 years after it was created. A registered design can last for 25 years. In the EU, an unregistered community design right lasts for three years from the date it was first made available to the public. A registered community design can last for up to 25 years.

What do Design rights protect?

A design right protects “the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation”.

How do I protect my designs?

The best way to protect your design in to apply for a registered design in the UK or EU.

What is a design rights infringement?

A design rights infringement is when another design that is similar or identical to your design does not produce a different overall impression on an informed consumer.

What is the difference between a registered design and a patent?

A patent protects the usefulness of an invention whereas a design right protects how an object looks.

What is an unregistered design right?

An unregistered design right arises automatically for three-dimensional designs in the UK and for both two and three-dimensional designs in the EU. An unregistered design lasts for a shorter amount of time and it is harder to prove the right in cases of infringement.


Taking businesses from idea to ideal

Submit your enquiry today to receive expert guidance from our Intellectual property lawyers.

Our lawyers provide quick and accessible legal advice at half the price of a high street legal company, so ensure you are protecting your business’ assets and value by protecting your copyrights today.

We offer a free no-obligation 15min legal phone consultation with our Intellectual Property lawyers.

Why use LawBite?

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We can't thank you enough for all of your help with this… I'm very impressed with the service

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A very smooth and efficient process. Will definitely use your services again.

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"I made the amendments that Louise suggested and I'm very happy with the changes. Your service is great and I will definitely be using you in the future."

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Complete our free online IP checklist to see where you could be at risk or have the potential to increase your business valuation.

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