Designs 2021 UK Guidance

Changes to unregistered designs from 1 January 2021

Guidance for businesses who have unregistered Community designs.

The UK has left the EU

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It’ll be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

On 1 January 2021 (the end of the transition period), unregistered Community designs (UCDs), will no longer be valid in the UK. On 1 January 2021 day, these rights will be immediately and automatically replaced by UK rights.

If you own an existing right, you do not need to do anything at this stage.

Continuing unregistered design

Designs that are protected in the UK as an unregistered Community design before 1 January 2021 day will be protected as a UK continuing unregistered design and will be automatically established on 1 January 2021 .

It will continue to be protected in the UK for the remainder of the 3 year term attached to it.

The fact that a corresponding unregistered Community design was established before 1 January 2021 through first disclosure in the EU but outside of the UK will not affect the validity of the continuing unregistered design.

Supplementary unregistered design

You should carefully consider how, when and where you first disclose your designs in order to establish unregistered protection in the UK and the EU.

Under the new law, we are creating a UK unregistered design right called supplementary unregistered design (SUD).

This right will ensure that the full range of design protection provided in the UK before 1 January 2021 will remain available after we leave the EU.

The terms of supplementary unregistered design protection will be similar to that already conferred by unregistered Community design. However, the protection it provides will not extend to the EU.

Supplementary unregistered design will mirror the UCD by providing post 1 January 2021 UK protection for both 3-and 2-dimensional designs.

SUD will be established by first disclosure in the UK or another qualifying country. It will be subject to interpretation by the UK Courts.

First disclosure in the EU will not establish SUD. However, it may destroy the novelty in that design, should you later seek to claim UK unregistered rights.

UK design right

UK design right will continue after 1 January 2021 and will function alongside continuing and supplementary unregistered design.

It will continue to provide protection for the shape and configuration of 3-dimensional articles for up to 15 years from the end of the year in which the design was first recorded or a corresponding article was first made.

Current law states that a UK design right can be established in the following circumstances:

  • by an individual who is resident in the EU
  • by a business formed under the laws of an EU member state
  • where first disclosure of the design occurs in an EU member state

This means that activity inside of the EU but outside the UK can be sufficient for establishing UK design right.

The qualifying criteria for UK design right will change on 1 January 2021. This will create consistency with the new supplementary unregistered design, and avoid an imbalance between UK and EU designers.

Qualification for the right will be limited to:

  • people resident in the UK or a qualifying country
  • businesses formed under the laws of the UK or a qualifying country

Where qualification is a result of first marketing, you will need to have disclosed your design in the UK or a qualifying country.

Published 30 January 2020