A design is registered by the Designs Registry in respect of a particular article and can last for a period of 25 years from the date the design is applied for, subject to payment of renewal fees at 5 year intervals. The design must be new or original and drawings and/or photographs are required showing the novel features of shape or configuration or pattern and ornament for which protection is sought. Thus, the shape of an article may be registered and/or the pattern or surface decoration applied to the article.
The novelty requirements are not quite the same as for patents and it is possible to apply for a Registered Design even if the idea has not been kept secret as long as it has not been disclosed to the public for longer than twelve months. To be registrable the design itself must not be dictated solely by the function the article is to perform; thus some aspect of the design must be aesthetic or have eye appeal. The Designs Registry will conduct a search in order to locate designs of a similar nature.
If design protection is required in a foreign country then it will usually be necessary to file applications for further protection abroad within six months of filing the UK Design Application in order to obtain the benefit of priority. Designs are usually registered quite quickly, for example within 4 to 6 months of application. The costs of applying for a Registered Design will vary according to the drawings and/or photographic work involved but as a rough guide may be in the order of £350-£450 + VAT.