Keltie's attorneys have an unusual wealth of expertise and experience in design rights. We help clients protect their designs, exploit their rights and mitigate risks.
Design rights protect aesthetics. They can cover the appearance of a physical object, for example the shape of a chair. They can also cover the appearance of non-physical designs such as a graphic user interface or a surface pattern. Design rights can encompass any aspect of appearance: shape, colour, patterns and ornamentation, iconography, typography or combinations of these. Aesthetic is a key factor in so many consumer choices; as its significance grows, so does the value in protecting it.
Any design that is new, or has at least some new design choices, could be protected with design rights. Filing a registered design can appear simple, but filing a good registered design with broad but robust protection is far from trivial. Enforcing or defending design rights means navigating many overlapping rights, registered and unregistered, that can vary subtly between jurisdictions. It also means navigating earlier rights that can be hard to pin-down.
When you dig below the surface, design is complex area, but at Keltie our expert intellectual property lawyers are here to help and advise you on the right protection for your creation. Our Design Group is made up of attorneys from both our Patent and Trade Mark teams who deviate significant parts of their practice to designs, meaning you get a wealth of experience, a blend of perspectives, and the best advice from our highly qualified professionals.
Registered design rights can be obtained for a design that is ‘new’ (meaning it differs from previous designs) and that creates a ‘different overall impression’ on an end user.
Once an EU or UK design is registered, it gives its owner a 25-year monopoly right to prevent another party from using it. Importantly, it allows the user to prevent infringements regardless of whether the other party has copied the design for the owner, or developed the design independently.
Unregistered design rights are short-term rights that arise without the creator having to take any specific action. They come into effect and exist automatically when you have created something. This means that no formal registration process is necessary.
However, unregistered design rights do not give the creator a monopoly right over a design in the same way that a registered design does.These rights give you, as a creator, a means to prevent the copying of your work without permission, but not to prevent someone who has come up with the design independently. To enforce rights you will generally need to prove that you were the original creator of the design, and that it has been copied from you.
To make good use of unregistered design rights, proper documentation is important. If you think you might want to make use of unregistered designs in the future, you need to ensure that you are in a position to prove exactly who created the design, and when it was created.
Developing a good registered design strategy can be complex, and doing it right requires the help of a skilled attorney. At Keltie, we approach designs differently - we are more strategic, more sophisticated, more creative, and more adaptable to your priorities.
Design rights have had a reputation as quick and simple, merely requiring the applicant to file images without much thought. With the depth of experience our design attorneys have amassed, a little strategic thought goes a very long way. We are more creative in our work to craft the scope of protection a new design requires, looking at what is key about the aesthetic, unlocking where the aesthetic value really lies, and developing a cost-effective strategy around this.
We work with your creations in mind. Your rights might need to be enforced in the future, so our work reflects the full scope of how you might want to use it. We do not simply file the paperwork, we consider what you and your business might need from the design in the future.
Keltie has also developed deep expertise in design clearance strategies, as well as providing assistance with enforcement and defense of design. Design clearance is an area that many companies, and even attorneys, struggle with: a design field can be vast, difficult to search, and difficult to assess. Our attorneys know how to extract and prioritise information from you, and from the outside world. We use sophisticated searching techniques to establish design context, commercial context and legal context, and we use this to give you the clarity and certainty you need to make commercial decisions. We add value.
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