Design Rights

Forbes Solicitors' design rights lawyers provide advice on all aspects of design law, including the registration and protection of designs, licensing agreements, and dispute resolution.

More about Design Rights

Our solicitors specialising in design rights has experience working with a range of clients, from individuals to large corporations, to protect their valuable design assets and ensure that their designs are not copied or infringed.

What are Design Rights

What are Design Rights

Design rights protect the physical appearance of a product, such as its shape, configuration, contours, colours, textures and materials from being copied by another business. The shape and configuration of industrial designs may be protected automatically on creation, however it is generally advisable to also obtain registration, especially where there are aesthetic features of the design which are worthy of protection.

Design rights, patentability, trade marks and copyright may co-exist in different aspects of the same product, so it is important to consider protecting all applicable intellectual property rights, particularly at the outset of a new venture.

Unregistered design rights may arise automatically under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; however in order to benefit from a wider degree of protection, it is also advisable to consider registering your designs under the Registered Designs Act 1949.

Design Rights in the UK

Design Rights in the UK

Unregistered DesignsThree-dimensional shapes are automatically protected as an unregistered design right for 15 years from the end of the year in which the design was first created or an article was made to that design (whichever is earlier), or 10 years from the end of the year in which articles made to the design were first made available for sale or hire, anywhere in the world. In the final five years of the protection period, any party is entitled to ask for, and be granted, a licence to use the design.

Primary infringement of unregistered design rights consists of making articles to the design or making a design document for the purpose of enabling such articles to be made.

Registered DesignsOn the other hand, a registered design gives the owner exclusive rights in the design. Once registered, can then be every 5 years, up to a total of 25 years. If a design is not renewed, it will lapse.

The owner of a registered design right does not need to prove intentional copying when taking infringement action against third parties, and rights can be enforced even where the third party did not know about the design except in some defined circumstances, for example the use was for teaching purposes. This is because following a registered design application, the design will be published in a public register, and this is deemed to give members of the public notice that a design owner owns the monopoly right over such design.


Registered and unregistered design rights permit an owner to distinguish their product, and consequently their brand, from competitors, and having appropriate registrations and licensing arrangements in place prevents the likelihood of third parties copying your designs, which often go to the heart of a product. Successfully protecting and exploiting your designs is key to developing a reputable brand, a unique selling point, and a healthy intellectual property portfolio where rights are adequately protected.

Our specialist intellectual property solicitors can assist in protecting your designs through registration, resolving disputes relating to registered or unregistered design rights and in providing advice in respect of exploiting existing design rights to your financial and commercial advantage.

Why choose our design rights solicitors?

Why choose our design rights solicitors?

Our design rights solicitors have extensive experience in protecting and enforcing design rights, including registered and unregistered designs. We provide tailored advice and practical solutions to help clients safeguard their designs and prevent infringement. Our team is dedicated to providing a high-quality service, with a focus on achieving the best possible outcome for our clients. We are committed to providing transparent and cost-effective pricing, ensuring that our clients receive value for money.

Who do our design rights solicitors help?

Who do our design rights solicitors help?

Our design rights solicitors help individuals and businesses who want to protect their designs and prevent others from copying or using them without permission.How can our design rights lawyers help?Our design rights lawyers can help you protect your intellectual property by providing legal advice and representation in matters related to design patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. We can assist you in registering your designs, enforcing your rights against infringers, negotiating licensing agreements, and resolving disputes through litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods. Our team has extensive experience in various industries and can provide tailored solutions to meet your specific needs. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you protect your valuable designs.

Our team at Forbes Solicitors boasts extensive expertise in providing legal services and aiding clients with Design Rights cases throughout the nation. Contact us today to connect with our team.

Design Rights FAQs

What are the legal rights of design?

Design rights protect the appearance of a product, including its shape, pattern, and decoration. The legal rights of design include the right to prevent others from copying or using the design without permission, the right to licence or sell the design, and the right to take legal action against infringement. Design rights can be registered or unregistered, and can last for up to 25 years.

What are the benefits of registering a design?

Registering a design provides legal protection against others copying or using the design without permission. It also allows the owner to take legal action against infringers and potentially receive damages. Additionally, registered designs can be licenced or sold for commercial gain.

What is the process for registering a UK design?

To register a UK design, an application must be made to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and include a representation of the design, details of the owner, and a fee. The IPO will examine the application and, if approved, will register the design and issue a certificate of registration. The registration will provide the owner with exclusive rights to use and licence the design for up to 25 years.

How much does it cost to register a UK design?

The cost to register a UK design varies depending on the type of design and the number of designs being registered. The basic fee for a single design registration is £60, with additional fees for multiple designs and expedited processing.

What is infringing on a design right?

Infringing on a design right means using, importing, selling or manufacturing a product that copies or closely resembles a registered design without permission from the owner. This is a violation of the owner's exclusive right to use their design and can result in legal action and damages.

What is an example of design rights?

An example of design rights is the registered design right, which gives the owner exclusive rights to use, sell, and licence their design for up to 25 years. This protects the appearance of a product, including its shape, pattern, and colour, from being copied by others without permission. Unregistered design rights also exist, which provide automatic protection for up to 15 years from the creation of the design.

How do I protect my design rights?

To protect your design rights you can register your design with the Intellectual Property Office. This will give you exclusive rights to use and licence your design for up to 25 years. You can also use non-disclosure agreements and trademarks to protect your design. If someone infringes on your design rights, you can take legal action to stop them and seek compensation for any damages.

What is the difference between registered and unregistered design rights?

Registered design rights are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and provide exclusive rights to the owner for up to 25 years. Unregistered design rights arise automatically and provide protection for up to 15 years, but are more limited in scope and only protect against copying. Registered design rights offer stronger protection and can be enforced more easily, but require an application and payment of fees.

How long do design rights last?

Design rights can last up to 25 years for registered designs and up to 15 years for unregistered designs. The duration of the protection depends on the type of design right and when it was registered or created.

Can I license my design rights to others?

Yes, as the owner of design rights, you have the right to licence them to others. This means that you can give permission for someone else to use your design in exchange for payment or other benefits. The terms of the licence agreement should be clearly defined and agreed upon by both parties. design rights can be licenced through a written agreement or implied through conduct.

What happens if someone infringes on my design rights?

If someone infringes on your design rights you can take legal action against them. This may involve seeking an injunction to prevent further infringement, claiming damages for any losses you have suffered as a result of the infringement, or both. You may also be able to apply for criminal sanctions against the infringer in certain circumstances. It is important to seek legal advice if you believe your design rights have been infringed.

How do I enforce my design rights?

To enforce your design rights you can take legal action against anyone who infringes on your rights. This can include sending a cease and desist letter, filing a claim in court, or seeking an injunction to prevent further infringement. It is important to have evidence of your design rights and the infringement in question. You may also consider seeking legal advice from a solicitor or intellectual property specialist.

Can I apply for design rights internationally?

Yes, you can apply for design rights internationally through the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. This system allows you to file a single application to protect your design in multiple countries that are members of the Hague Agreement. The UK is a member of this agreement, and you can apply for international design protection through the UK Intellectual Property Office.

What types of designs can be protected?

Designs that can be protected include industrial designs, which are the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process, and registered designs, which are designs that have been registered with the Intellectual Property Office. Designs that are functional or dictated solely by technical function cannot be protected.

Our dedicated Intellectual Property team

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Partner and Head of Department, Commercial

John Pickervance

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Senior Associate, Commercial

Daniel Fletcher

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Associate, Commercial

Katie Lee

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