There are four systems pursuant to which design protection may come into existence covering the UK:

  1. Under the Community designs system (Regulation 6/2002), an application may be filed with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for a registered design covering the EU. A Community registered design is a unitary right which may be enforced or challenged for the whole of the EU in a single court action.
  2. Under the Community designs system (Regulation 6/2002), Community unregistered design right arises automatically in qualifying circumstances. It protects the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or its ornamentation. Questions of infringement and subsistence are considered for the whole of the EU in a single court action. The term of protection is three years from the date the design is first made available to the public.
  3. Under the national system, an application for a registered design may be made to the UKIPO, which may grant a registered design covering the UK. Registration, and any subsequent questions of infringement and validity, are governed by the UK Registered Designs Act 1949 and associated legislation, which has been amended in order to comply with harmonising EU-wide legislation, in particular Directive 98/71.

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