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Irish, United Kingdom and European Union Designs

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.