These protect the appearance of an article which is designed to attract prospective purchasers. They cannot be used to protect the way in which an item works.
To qualify for registration the design must be new and have "individual character".
A grace period is provided so that publication of the design during the preceding twelve months by the designer, by his/her successor in title, or as a consequence of an abuse, will not invalidate the registration.
Articles having an appearance which is purely functional cannot validly be registered, although functional items often still have an aesthetic aspect to their design and can therefore be registered. Thus, although a hammer has a shaft and a head which is primarily functional it could still be designed to look distinctive and attractive to prospective purchasers and can thus be registered.
Parts for a complex product can be registered provided they remain visible during normal use, e.g. a wing mirror or a vehicle light. However, the use of such parts in the repair of a complex product to restore its original appearance is not an infringement.
OUTLINE OF REGISTRATION PROCEDURES
Initial steps - Conduct searches etc. to assess whether design is likely to be registrable. Prepare and file Application.
1-3 months - Examination report may be issued raising objections or REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE issued. Initial term is 5 years, renewable for like periods up to maximum of 25 years.
Within 6 months - Decide whether overseas protection is required and file appropriate applications.
WHY USE A PATENT AGENT?
It is not essential to use the services of a Patent Agent to obtain a patent or register a trade mark or design. However, if the protection that is offered by these forms of registration is to be of commercial value, and prevent people from encroaching on your invention, design or trade mark, it is essential to employ a professionally qualified Patent Attorney.
A Patent Attorney will prepare the Application papers in such a way that the Application gives the optimum protection to the "essence" of the design rather than being limited to features that might not be important.
It will help us to help you and keep our charges down if you can give us the information we require in a concise and easily readable form.
1. A sample of the design to be registered OR drawings showing the external shape of the design from all six directions plus (preferably) a general perspective view OR photographs from all six directions and a perspective view.
2. A title describing the article.
3. The full name and address of the design owner or owners.
4. Contact details (phone and fax numbers).
FIND OUT MORE:
Visit the web site of the UK Intellectual Property Office
© Craske & Co., 1998, 2005, 2007
Last updated: 10 November 2012