Irish and United Kingdom Designs
A design may be registered at the Irish Patents Office and the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office in respect of any feature of a product that is new and has individual character and that is visible during ordinary use of the product. Features such as the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or material of a product, including ornamentation, can contribute to making the product protectable by a design. Designs which are purely functional are excluded from protection.
You can register a design for such diverse items as toys, lamps, and furniture, to containers, clothes, wallpaper, etc.
The registration of a design secures your monopoly in respect of that design, and may last for 25 years.
European Union designs
The European Union offers two forms of protection for designs:
- An unregistered European Union design
- A registered European Union design.
These rights can be used to protect designs that are new and have individual character.
Protection is available for the appearance of the whole, or a part, of a product resulting from features including the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of a product and/or its ornamentation. Both three-dimensional shapes and two-dimensional representations can be protected as community designs. Visible components of complex products can also be protected.
Every qualifying design is entitled to protection as an unregistered community design for a non-extendable period of three years from the date upon which the design was first published in the European Union.
A registered European Union design gives protection for an initial five years, renewable at five-yearly intervals to a maximum term of 25 years.
A European Union design is unitary, that is, it protects a design in all the EU Member States.