Designs and Copyright

What you need to know

The appearance of a product can be protected with a range of intellectual property rights, including registered designs, unregistered design rights and copyright. Copyright can also be used to protect intangible works, including music, film and computer software.

Registered designs generally afford a broader scope of protection in comparison to unregistered designs, are easier to enforce, and have a longer duration. However, a design application must be prepared and filed for registered design protection. It is important that the design application is carefully framed such that the registered design cannot easily be circumvented by third parties.

Unregistered design rights and copyright are potentially relevant to all manner of products. The protection afforded by these rights subsists automatically and so does not need to be applied for. However, for a product to be eligible for protection it must satisfy certain statutory requirements.

How we can help

We help our clients to navigate these complex and often overlapping areas of intellectual property, including providing advice on whether certain products satisfy the necessary requirements to be afforded protection and whether the protection is commercially relevant to our client’s needs.

We are experienced in advising clients on how to protect their works, relying on combinations of IP rights to meet their specific needs and budget, and how to manage their existing IP portfolios. Our specialist team also provides advice on the potential infringement of registered or unregistered design rights and/or copyright by our clients or by third parties and guide you through any disputes, whether before a court or an IP office.  Our European design attorneys regularly file and prosecute UK, European Community and International design applications. We also work with a network of international experts to obtain design protection worldwide.