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Design Rights: A Quick Guide to the UK Registration System

Thursday, 4 April 2013

As the UK desperately seeks growth, great emphasis is being put on innovation and design as an driver in the economy. Before taking the leap in to the world of design or expending time and energy actually creating a new design, it is wise to understand how to protect your efforts.

Here we have set out the basis process of registering a design right in the UK. Although you should understand certain aspects of the substantive law, there are also a number of practical aspects of the application procedure that it is helpful to be aware of.

The Application Process

The application itself is made on form DF2A, available online from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”). The applicant should print the form and, once completed with supporting documents, posted it to the IPO. Payment is required for each application, which can be made by cheque or credit/debit card.

Information to be Provided

The first section of the form is self-explanatory, although one matter should be highlighted. The application, including the designs and any exhibits/evidence in support, will be made publicly available. Care should be exercised in disclosing names and trade secrets. Should the applicant wish to maintain confidentiality he may so state with reasons at the time that the application is filed, or within 14 days of its posting.

Design Illustration

The applicant is required to illustrate the design with enough detail “so that there is no doubt about exactly what you want to register.”

Where the application is in respect of a material it is recommended that a sample be attached. Similarly, if the application is in respect of a colour, the illustration should show the exact colour. If colour is not intended to form part of the application or the application is in respect of part only of a visual representation, the applicant can disclaim against those aspects not forming part of the application.

Should the applicant have problems satisfying the ‘no doubt’ test, he may provide an illustration sample by other non-perishable method.

The Review Process

Once the application has been received, an acknowledgment will be sent to the applicant. The application will be reviewed by an examiner who will send a letter to the applicant informing him of the IPO’s findings – if the application is accepted the design will be published within three weeks.

If the application is not accepted, the letter will so state and may contain suggestions for remedying deficiencies. The applicant will then have ‘at least’ two months to persuade the examiner that his objections are unjustified, or to remedy the issue. The examiners can be contacted directly or the applicant can apply for a formal hearing with a Hearing Officer.

Should the design still not be accepted the applicant will receive a written statement of the IPO’s reasons. This decision can be appealed to the Registered Designs Appeal Tribunal at the High Court or the Court of Sessions in Scotland or the High Court in Northern Ireland.


Although it is possible to conduct the registration procedure yourself, we would always recommend seeking advice from an experienced professional. Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can assist you with your application and guide you through the procedure. For more information please contact James Crichton via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.