At the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020 there will inevitably be changes to the protection available for companies against copying of their products.
Firstly, let’s look at current position. There are two forms of protection for original product designs: Unregistered Design Right, which is a copy right; and the Registered Design, which is a form of monopoly right.
If you haven’t registered your design, you may be able to take legal action against a company that copies your products using your unregistered design right, but there are snags:
• You have to show that the alleged copy is made “exactly or substantially” to your design;
• Unregistered rights are of relatively short duration;
• Protection is generally not available outside UK and EU;
• Enforcement in the courts can be difficult and costly, because of the need to provide evidence supporting the right – you need to prove ownership.
The Registered Design gives the owner a stronger position:
• Infringement is by a product that gives the same impression to the informed viewer as the Registered Design;
• Protection can last for up to 25 years from the date of registration;
• Corresponding protection can be obtained in a range of countries around the world;
• The existence of the registration is proof of the right, so taking action for infringement is simpler and less expensive than with unregistered design rights.
When the UK was a member of the EU, UK residents enjoyed the benefits of the EU Unregistered Design, but this right will end at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. From 2021, UK companies will not be able to rely on unregistered design rights outside the UK.
However, those companies that registered their designs in the EU will continue to be protected, but the UK part of the registration will be split off and become a separate UK registration, which will need to maintained separately from the EU part.
So it makes sense for UK companies to consider registering new product designs, rather than relying solely on unregistered rights. Registration is quick and cost-effective, and the mere existence of a registered design may warn off the competition.
Contact us today on 01522 801111 to protect your company’s products against copying in the UK or wherever in the world your markets are.