UK registered designs afford protection in the United Kingdom. Due to the harmonisation of design law across the EU, many important features of UK registered design law remain the same as those of registered Community design law, even after the UK's departure from Europe. For example, a UK registered design can protect the same type of designs as a registered Community design, give rise to approximately the same type of rights and remedies, and last for the same length of time. Further information about these aspects of protection can be obtained via the related articles for registered Community designs below. In this article, we concentrate on the major differences between UK and Community registered designs.
In order to obtain a UK registered design, an application must be made to the UK Design Registry (part of the UK Intellectual Property Office). A UK application is subject to more stringent examination than a corresponding registered Community design application. However, the UK examination procedure is still fairly cursory. Whilst an examiner is obliged to raise objections if he has reasonable grounds to believe that a design is not new or that it lacks individual character, a routine search will not be carried out in respect of every application. In practice, this means that objections will only be raised against designs that are self-evidently not new, or lacking in individual character.
If objections are raised by the Design Registry, an applicant has the right to file written submissions or request a Hearing to try to persuade the Registry to waive the objections. If no objections are raised, an application may be granted and a registration certificate issued in as little as six to eight weeks from filing.
Similar to registered Community designs, it is possible to file “multiple applications” covering more than one design in a single application.
It is possible to request that the publication of a design is deferred for up to thirty months for registered Community design applications. In contrast, it is only possible to request that publication of the design is deferred for up to 12 months for UK applications.
It has been a criminal offence since 2014 in the UK to intentionally copy a UK registered design without the consent of the proprietor whilst knowing that the design is registered. This is similar to the level of criminal protection given to copyright and trade marks in the UK.