Introduction To Registered Designs

Protection is granted on the basis of purely visual representations of the design in question. It can be an important protection for certain articles which, for example, may not be capable of patent protection.

To be registered, a design must be new, have individual character and be visible to the eye during normal use of the design.  UK and EU registered design applications are not examined to check if they are new and have individual character, however other countries do examine applications to see if they meet these criteria.  Novelty and individual character are usually challenged if a registered design is enforced.

If you would like to discuss the suitability of your design or file an application to register your design then please contact one of our qualified attorneys.

Design Services

Our team of experienced attorneys can help you with every aspect of the design registration process, from filing and prosecuting your application to enforcing your registered design rights.

Applying for Design Protection

Our attorneys can conduct in-house preliminary searches and will prepare and file your registered design applications in a suitable format for any country in the world. If you would like to apply for registered design protection, then please contact our team today to get started.

Design Maintenance

Our experienced in-house records department can monitor and manage the payment of your registered design renewal fees. We will provide reminders relating to the deadlines for renewal payments and can make payments of the renewal fees on receipt of your instructions.

Design Searching

Our attorneys can conduct preliminary in-house searches in respect of the UK and European Design Registers. We can also request searches to be undertaken by the UK Design Registry, by dedicated search organisations or via our network of overseas associates.

Worldwide Design Protection

We are able to facilitate the filing, prosecution and maintenance of registered designs and registered design applications in most countries in the world due to our extensive network of overseas associates. Our attorneys can advise you of the filing requirements for any country of interest to you.

Design FAQs

We’ve compiled a list of our most popular Design FAQs. We hope you find these useful. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.
What is a registered design?

A registered design protects the aesthetic appearance of a whole or part of a novel design, including novel features of shape and configuration of an article and/or pattern and ornamentation applied to an article, providing these features are visible to the eye during normal use of the article. Other features which can be protected include novel arrangements of lines, contours, shapes, textures, packaging, get-up, graphical symbols and typefaces.


The owner of a registered design has the sole right in a country in which the design is registered to make, sell, import for sale, dire or use in business the design or articles incorporating the design.

What can be protected by a registered design?

A registered design protects the aesthetic appearance of a whole or part of a novel article. Novel features of shape and configuration of an article and/or pattern and ornamentation applied to an article can be protected.

What is the length of term of a registered design?

A registered design in the UK lasts for up to 25 years from the date of filing the registered design application. Renewal fees are payable for the design registration every 5 years of the registered design term.

How do I apply for a registered design?

In order to register a design, an application needs to be filed at the Designs Registry in the country in which you wish to obtain registered design protection. The application must include a number of representations of the article or design for which protection is desired. These representations may be in the form of photographs or drawings and should include different views of the article or design, sufficient to show all aspects of the article or design.

In most cases the application will proceed to registration without objection but some modifications to the application may be considered necessary to comply with formal requirements of the Designs Registry.

How long does it take to obtain design registration?

It typically takes approximately three months to obtain design registration in the UK but it can take 1-2 years in some countries. Once the Design Registry considers the design application is acceptable for registration, they will typically issue a certificate of registration.

Can I obtain overseas registered design protection?

If you require design registration in one or more foreign countries, this can be done in two ways:

  1. Filing separate registered design applications in each country in which registered design protection is desired;
  2. File a European Community Design Application covering all the European Union countries.

Once a first design application for a particular design has been filed, the novelty of the design will not be destroyed in other countries for which design protection is desired, providing the one or more foreign design applications are filed within six months from the first registered design application date, often called the “priority” period.

How much does it cost to obtain registered design protection?

It is relatively inexpensive to obtain registered design protection and protection can be obtained for as little as £300-£500 per design application in the UK.  Registered Design protection in the EU can be obtained for around £1,500-£2,000 per design application.

What is an unregistered design right?

Unregistered design rights subsist automatically in any novel aspects of shape and configuration of a whole or part of a design once the design has been recorded in some permanent form or an article has been made to the design.


Unregistered design does not subsist in the following:

  1. A method or principle of construction of an article;
  2. Three dimensional features which allow the article to be placed in or around another article;
  3. Three dimensional features of an article which are dependent on the appearance of another article to which it is intended to form an integral part; and
  4. Surface decoration.


Unregistered design right is a unique type of right that subsists in the UK and the European Union only.

How long does unregistered design right protection last for?

In the UK, unregistered design right lasts for 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first recorded or, if an article made to the design is made available for sale within the first five years of this term, unregistered design lasts for 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which this occurred.


In the European Union, unregistered design lasts for three years from the date of first public disclosure of the design within the European Union.

How do I show that I have unregistered design right protection?

In order to demonstrate that unregistered design right protection subsists in your design or article, you need to keep dated drawings and/or photographs of the design or article and any modifications made to the design or article, in such a form that they can be used to provide evidence of unregistered design right at some point in the future.

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