I have a three-dimensional product rather than a graphical two dimensional work. My product has a nice design which took me quite some time to devise. How should I protect the design?
Unregistered design right (UDR) will give you some rights to protect the shape of the design against copying. It subsists automatically as of the date of creation, and costs nothing. UK and European unregistered design right do have some differences, including the duration of protection, and may not always subsist for your product.
However, if you need to later rely on UDR when someone takes your design, you will need to prove that the design was copied. If you instead use our competitive UK or European registered design offer to obtain registered protection, there is no need to prove copying when dealing with infringement.
Therefore, we would definitely recommend spending a relatively small amount to obtain registered design protection now, compared to potentially spending much more trying to enforce weaker unregistered protection in the long term.
For how long can I rely on protection for the design of my product using registered or unregistered design right?
UK unregistered design right (UDR) lasts for 10 years from the end of the calendar year of first marketing. If you do not market the product in the first 5 years, then design right will last for 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first recorded. In addition, compulsory licenses are available in the last 5 years of UK UDR, i.e. if requested, you must grant a license for another party to use the design.
In contrast, Community (i.e. European) UDR will only last for 3 years from the date the design was first made available to the public.
In contrast, you can get up to 25 years of protection from both UK and European registered designs, giving you a much longer period of protection. Therefore, if you have a particularly important product, it is advisable to pursue registered design protection.
How can I mark my product to warn others or deter people from copying it?
You should include a phrase such as “Unregistered design right (UDR) reserved” followed by the relevant company name (or person’s name) and the current year (or the year when it was first created or marketed).
For a registered design, the phrase “Registered Design No.” followed by the registration number of the design should suffice.