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Registered Design Rights
Some designs can be protected under the Registered Designs Act. Under the Act designs are features of the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or material of a product or part of a product or its ornamentation.
So for example, a new design of a coffee jug would be a design. A distinctive handle shape would also qualify as a design in its own right as would any decoration on the jug itself.
In order to be registrable the design must be new i.e. not have been disclosed to the public (although there is a 12 month grace period) and it must produce a different overall impression from other designs.
Some designs are specifically excluded from being registrable.
The owner of a Registered Design has the exclusive right to “use” the design including any designs which to not produce a different overall impression.
“Use” includes making, offering for sale, putting on the market, exporting or stocking the product in which the design is incorporated.
Registered design right lasts for up to 25 years.
The person who is entitled to own a registered design is the designer. Where the design is created by an employee or by a person commissioned to create the design then the owner of the design will be the employer or the person who commissioned the design.
Points to Note
Registered designs cover all products e.g. you cannot copy the registered design of a broach and incorporate it on, say, a handbag
When considering whether or not a design is new, designs throughout the world must be considered
To succeed in a case of registered design right infringement you do not have to prove copying.
It is now possible to obtain a registered design which protects your design throughout the EU