UK's official split from the EU hasn't affected the brand registrations and product designs of our current clients. Some legal changes to design rights have to be observed, now that the Brexit transition period has ended. As we continue to design products compliant to CE/CA standards and to navigate clients through the registration processes, we have gathered information from various online sources to give you a summary of the latest on design rights.
Design Reality will continue to seek official legal counsel on design rights as needed. We advise everyone to do the same in order to make their own informed decisions.
In the meantime, we can all rest assured that the registration or applications of patents won’t change.
UK design right will also remain the same after 1 January 2021 and will continue to provide protection for the shape and configuration of three dimensional articles. This will last 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. However, the qualifying criteria for UK design right will change on 1 January 2021.
Qualifications for the UK design right will now be limited to:
Unregistered Design Right is a universal copy right that covered UK designs under EU law, but from 2021, UK companies will no longer be able to claim unregistered design rights outside the UK. For UK companies designing products for export, the way forward is to start registering all new designs, rather than to rely on unregistered rights. In addition, the new UK law will stipulate a new 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 for three years after the end of the transition period. The terms of SUD protection will be similar to that already conferred by Unregistered Community Design (UCD). However, the protection it provides will not extend to the EU.
Important to note here is that SUD will be established by first disclosure in the UK, but not in the EU. If you first disclosed your design in the EU, this may actually destroy the novelty in that design, should you later seek to claim UK unregistered rights. That’s why the DBA advises all members dealing with brands or designs that are covered by European registration to ensure that they work with their clients to protect their products from being copied and registered in the EU under similar trademarks.
Similarly, first disclosure in the UK may not establish UCD and could destroy the novelty in that design, should you later seek to claim EU unregistered rights.
Overall, the new laws will ascertain the viability of UK-based designs and will ensure that UK design firms continue to work with the EU without a hitch. More barriers will be in place for designs entering the UK from the EU. Here are the foreseeable changes around those design registrations, according to John Coldham, UK Head of Design and Brands at the International Law Firm Gowling WLG:
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on British business have coincided with post-Brexit preparations. One big positive outcome of this is a renewed focus on our local capabilities for both manufacture and design, especially for medical devices, PPE and other healthcare items. The UK Government has made an official appeal to businesses and has allocated grants in support of Made-in-Britain designs and manufactured goods. Design Reality’s mission to bring better products to people means not only a step-by-step, legally competent approach to innovation, but also resilience during transitions. It means supporting our clients always, regardless of their home base, their altered design rights or new product testing needs.