The UK Rules
Register a Design

Registering Your Design Online at UKIPO

Creators who register a design, do so to protect the external shape of an object or a product. Generally, having a registered design would mean others cannot copy the external design of the product.

There are several key steps in understanding how to register a design in the United Kingdom. This guide explains how to prepare your illustrations, how to apply online with the IPO, and the limitations of use.

How to Register the Look of Your Product

So, the main aim of registering a design is to stop anyone else copying or stealing the 'look' of a product. As a general rule, the look of a design refers to, and includes, its:

Registered Designs:

Note: In fact, automatic design rights could already be protecting the shapes of certain objects. Even so, after registering it, you will be able to display your registration number on your product.

To Be Registered, Your Design Must:

Note: You would not be able to protect the functionality of your design. An example might be a chair that folds away quicker than others of the same type.

Searching Design Registers

You should search the design registers BEFORE you apply to register your design with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The main purpose is to determine whether your design is unique, by:

Note: You can also use Form DF21 to ask the Intellectual Property Office to perform a search on your behalf (the cost is around £24).

Preparing Illustrations for Design Registration

The IPO issues specific rules about submitting design illustrations online and by post. The illustrations should:

You can include up to twelve (12) illustrations if you apply to register your design online. Make sure there is no more than one view per file before you send them.

If you need to show more than 12 illustrations you would need to apply online. If so, use plain A4 paper to show your design illustrations.

Registering Part of a Design Illustration

You may need to add more information if you choose to register only a part of your illustration. The same applies if registering the shape, but not the colour or the surface pattern, for example.

How to Register a Design in the United KingdomWhen registering only part of an illustration, you can show or explain:

Note: Circling parts of the illustration, 'greying out' certain areas, or adding a line of text will help to achieve clarification.

An Example:
You are going to register a design for a bicycle with the UKIPO. The colour of the bicycle in the illustrations is purple. So, add a line of text that explains you are registering the shape of the bicycle and not the colour. Doing so would protect your right to use any colour.

Apply to Register a Design

Applying Online

There is a specific service to apply to register a design with the Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) in the United Kingdom. Online registration is less expensive than applying by post.

Note: You can choose to register more than one design. But, you cannot claim back the VAT portion because the fee is outside the VAT tax system (called out of scope).

Applying by Postal Methods

You need to use the DF2A application form and include your prepared illustrations with a standard fee sheet that shows how much you paid.

After you submit your application, it will take about two (2) weeks for the Intellectual Property Office to examine it. The IPO will register it without delay providing there are no objections and you did not ask them to defer the registration (further details below).

You would get two (2) months to respond if someone objects to the design registration. You might also choose to request a resolution hearing if:

The final step in the process is to add your design to the list of registered designs and make it public. Deferring your registration means you prefer for it not to be made public.

Sending Forms and Responses to the IPO

Intellectual Property Office
Concept House
Cardiff Road
South Wales
NP10 8QQ
United Kingdom

Using a Registered Design

There are several ways to benefit from a design, such as by licensing, mortgaging, selling, changing ownership, and exploiting it by marketing.

How to Defer Registering a Design

In some instances, creators will choose to defer registering their design. A typical example would be to gain extra time to develop and market the product before making it public.

You can make a request to the Intellectual Property Office not to register your design for up to one (1) year when you make an application.

Note: The IPO will cancel a deferred design if it does not get registered within twelve (12) months of applying. If this happens, you would need to reapply and pay the relevant fees once more.

Requesting Design Registration

Use Form DF2C to apply to register one or more designs for which registration was previously deferred along with a fee sheet for each design.

The IPO would register your design from the date that you first filed the application. The current fee to register a deferred design in the United Kingdom is £40.

Note: You would not get full protection of design registration until the application is registered and published.

How to Register a Design in the United Kingdom