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The UK system was harmonised with the EU system before Brexit, and it has not been significantly changed by new regulations. This means many key features are the same in the UK and the EU: validity and infringement is assessed in the same way and the requirements for the representations of the design are the same. Just as in the EU, the UK allows multiple designs to be bundled together in a single application, and the examination process looks at formalities only, so registration is usually quick.

 

But there are a few small differences in the process:

 

  • Written Disclaimers: A written disclaimer does have legal effect in the UK – unlike the EU where a disclaimer can be included but does not actually affect the scope and interpretation of the design. But you only get 100 characters for your disclaimer in the online form, so keep it snappy!

 

  • Deferring publication: You can defer publication in the UK, but only for a maximum of 12 months from filing – shorter than the 30-month deferral available in the EU.

 

  • Maximum number of designs: You can include multiple designs in an application in both the EU and the UK. In the EU there is no limit on the number of designs you can include, but in the UK you will max out at 50. If you have more designs than that, you will need another application.

 

  • Priority claims: The EUIPO finally joined the DAS system for designs, but the UK hasn’t joined yet. However, you don’t need to file priority documents in the UK anyway. Instead, the attorney can tick a box on filing to say the design as filed is of the same scope as the priority document.
  • Designers: You can’t name the designers on UK designs.

 

  • Locarno class: You can’t include a Locarno class on UK designs, though one will be assigned by the office.

 

  • Reference images: If you want to include reference images (i.e. more than the seven images that define the scope of protection) this is limited to five extra images in the UK.

 

  • Fee structure:
    • EU designs require an official fee for each and every design that is included in the application (€350 for the first design, €175 per design for designs 2 to 10, and €80 per design for designs 11+).
    • The UK structures the fees differently: there is a single application fee, rather than a per-design fee, but the application fee increases slightly when the number of designs reaches a certain threshold (£50 for an application with a single design, £70 if it has 2 to 10 designs; £90 if it has 11 to 20 designs; £110 if it has 21 to 30 designs; £130 if it has 31 to 40 designs and £150 if it has 41 to 50 designs).
    • Overall, UK filing fees are a lot lower than EU filing fees, especially when there are large numbers of designs in the applciation.
    • But watch out for….

 

  • Deferred publication fees: The UK is not so generous on deferred publication fees. If you chose to defer, there is a fee for deferred publication that is paid for each and every design, just as there is in the EU. But unlike the EU, the UK charges a full £40 official fee per design, with no discounts for the second and subsequent designs in an application. For an application with a large number of designs and deferred publication, the initial filing fee could be much lower in the UK than the EU, but the deferred publication cost could be rather higher!

 

  • Timescales and fast-track: There is a fast-track process available for EU designs, which can lead to registration within 48 hours if all formalities are met. In practice EU designs are fast to register even without fast-track, and often register within a week. In the UK there is no fast-track system. Timescales are still fast - usually a matter of a week or two if there are no issues - but higher filing volumes after Brexit have lengthened timescales a little in recent months.

 

Knowing these key differences can help you prepare yourself, or your client, as you embark on UK design filings for the first time.  And of course, if you need help filing UK registered designs, get in touch with our designs team, who will be happy to help! 

Continue reading about Ten differences between UK and EU registered designs
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