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It is an exciting time when you have designed a new product. But how do you stop others copying your design?

Depending on the nature of your design, you may be able to obtain registered protection for it. A registered design protects the overall visual appearance of your product or a part of it, over a specified geographical area. It protects the way a product looks, rather than the idea behind it or its inner workings.

A ‘product’ can range from a three-dimensional shape to a pattern intended for clothing, for example many tartan designs are protected by registration. And having your design protected by a registered right means that you can stop anyone else from creating a design similar to yours in the geographical area where you have the design registered.

There is also an unregistered design right in the UK. This arises automatically when the product is created and protects the overall three-dimensional shape or configuration of a product, but not the product itself.

Some protection is also afforded to unregistered designs, although proving infringement can be more difficult.

You can license the design right, gaining revenue by allowing third parties to use your design, or you can capitalise on the fact that you are the only company able to use that design in the market.

How can Thorntons help?

Our Intellectual Property team can make sure that your rights are protected and help you take action against anyone who seeks to copy or dilute the strength of your design. We can also help you capitalise on your design’s revenue potential.

If you think that someone has copied your unregistered design, come and speak to us. We can advise you on how to best protect your interests and if you decide to register your design, we can help you apply.

Our team has an abundance of knowledge and experience in design protection. Whether you are considering applying to register your design within the UK or further afield, need assistance in enforcing your design rights against others, or just need advice where to start, we can help.