Design right protects the design of 3D objects (which are not protected by copyright or patent). Designs of furniture, shoes, kitchenware, cutlery, handbags and luggage are amongst the items capable to being protected by design right.
The following are the most important changes:
- It is now a criminal offence to intentionally infringe design right. A design right pirate can now end up behind bars.
- In accordance with European practice (and the “droit moral”) a designer commissioned to create a design now keeps all the rights in the design unless there is a specific written agreement to the contrary. But this does not apply to employees who create designs as part of their job.
- The Intellectual Property Office will shortly offer a low cost design opinion service. This will result in a non-binding opinion in design disputes where a claim is made that a registered design is not original. The intention here is to avoid costly disputes in court.
- Original designs are as much a concrete asset of a business as plant and machinery. Entrepreneurs in creative industries must never lose sight of the need to take all necessary steps to protect the designs which belong to them.