Craske & Co.
patent attorneys since 1982


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  trade marks
  eu marks
  eu designs
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Non-Registrable Intellectual Property

Not every kind of intellectual property must be registered.


Artistic creations are automatically protected by copyright. Such creations can include:

  • Books and novels
  • Pieces of music
  • Paintings and drawings
  • Sculptures and pottery
  • Computer programs

Copyright is relatively limited. It does not protect a concept (e.g. a plot for a book), only the artists personal expression of the idea.

Although there are no registration procedures it is wise to keep all original works, which should be signed and dated and kept in a safe place in case they are ever required for production in evidence.


Functional but nevertheless original objects are given a limited period of automatic protection (five years). An example of such an article attracting Unregistered Design Right would be a new shape of hinge. Again, the protection is limited to close copies of the article.

Unregistered Design Right is peculiar to the United Kingdom. This kind of protection is not available in most other countries (see below).


In the European Union (EU) the outward appearance of an original product is given automatic protection for a period of three years from the date on which the design was first made available to the public within the EU.  Protection only extends to close copies.


Unregistered marks and trading styles which serve to distinguish a traders business are given protection in common law, known as the law of "passing off". Unlike Registered Trade Marks which serve as prima facie ownership of a mark, passing off is only available to traders who can show that they have an established reputation, and producing convincing evidence is often difficult and expensive.

Unregistered trade marks are not given any protection in some countries.

Craske & Co., 1998, 2005

Last updated: 20 January 2005