Registered Designs; the good, the bad and the downright ugly

Some tips to make sure your design actually does protect your product….

The design of a product can be instrumental in its success or failure, and a well designed product will sell better, and at a higher price, than one that may perform the same function but lacks design appeal.  Companies such as Apple have maintained market lead by tying functionality and design inextricably together.  I certainly know that I will spend more on a product that is well designed than a poorer designed counterpart (at least that’s the excuse I’m using for needing – yes needing – another handbag).

Although unregistered design right provides some protection, the registered design system in the UK and Europe can be an extremely cost effective and quick way to obtain more formal protection.

However, sometimes the deceptive simplicity of the design registration process process in the UK and Europe can lead to opportunities being missed and registered design that don’t quite do what they’re supposed to. What am I talking about here? THE DRAWINGS!! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on the other side of a design case and a felt a wave of relief when I look at the other sides drawings and realise that they’ve taken a few dodgy photographs and thought they were done, but overall using ‘bad’ drawings are a mistake that just doesn’t need to be made.

So here are a few tips before you file;

  • Consider using line drawings. If the shape of your product is the important design aspect (as opposed to its surface decoration) strongly consider using line drawings.
  • Consider whether contrast is a design aspect. Is the pen lid meant to stand out? Are the wheels a different colour for a reason? If so, grey scale drawings may help pull out this design aspect.
  • You could always file more than one application, one simple line drawing depicting the product shape to cover the basic shape, and perhaps another to include more intricate design elements, surface decoration or contrasting areas – the cost of design registrations is low enough for this to be a perfectly feasible option.
  • Think about using dashed lines to identify areas that don’t form part of the design e.g. the power button or a logo and disclaim these when you file the application.
  • Most of the time the views you are likely to file are; front, back, top (plan), bottom, left, right and isometric/perspective view. However, just check that these are the best for what you are trying to protect.
  • Remember, what you see in the views that you file defines the protection that you get AND YOU CAN’T CHANGE THEM AFTER YOU FILE!

The UK IPO also published some useful guidance in the summer that can be viewed here .

If you want to talk to someone about whether designs are relevant to your business, or what views you should file, then call Claire Rutherford on 0191 603 1101.