Posted on Monday 15 January 2018 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property

The importance of Intellectual Property (IP) is one which should never be under-estimated, IP protection is essential for any business and brand. When speaking of IP rights, we are referring to trademarks, patents, copyright and design rights. While we have spoken many times about trademarks and patents our focus here is design protection and why it is a worthwhile addition to your IP strategy.

Firstly, what is a Design?

A design constitutes ‘the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation.’ (Article 3 of the Design Regulation, Council Regulation (EC) No.6/2002.)

In short it is the appearance of a product. Good design can lead to a competitive advantage in an already crowded marketplace. Design registration is an effective form of IP protection against unauthorised use or infringement of a product.

Why should I obtain a design registration?

The marketplace has never been more competitive with an endless stream of products battling for top market positions. This crowded market has now meant consumers tend to focus on the aesthetics of a product when making a purchase decision. With this the success of a product can depend not just on its brand but also on its design. Think Coca Cola, its distinctive bottle design, which is now synonymous with its brand. Without this protection, you are leaving your product vulnerable and open to possible infringement of which you are unable to prevent.

If I already have a Patent am I not protected?

Not entirely. A patent protects the functionality of a product, while design protection is focused on the appearance of the product. Like patents they are territorial, meaning any rights you have attained are limited to those countries you have sought protection in. For instance, if you wish, you can obtain design protection in just one country you can apply via that chosen country. Alternatively, if you plan on marketing your product in numerous countries throughout Europe for example, you may want to look at a Registered Community Design (RCD) which grants you rights that are valid throughout the EU.

 What are the requirements to register my design?

First and foremost, your design must be new and possess individual character. Similar to patents, non-disclosure of your design is important and if possible file your application before publicly disclosing it. However, the design registration process does allow for a ‘grace period’ of up to 12 months following disclosure of a design. Once granted, protection lasts for a period of 25 years with annual renewal payments every five years to keep protection in force.

Finally, and most importantly speak with a professional.

As always when it comes to decisions about IP we would advise you to speak with an IP professional, it is their job to guide and advise you. IP laws can be complex, and Attorneys are highly trained and educated in their field, their assistance and guidance will allow you to make more valuable decisions when it comes to your business.


At Cruickshank, we are always happy to answer your queries, and should you wish to schedule a no-cost initial consultation to speak with one of our advisors please contact us at

This information above does not constitute as legal advice but rather general information.