unregistered design rights

By Deborah Kirk and Elizabeth Purcell

Brexit discussions will need to address the application of the Community unregistered design right (CUDR) in the UK following the UK’s exit from the EU. The CUDR currently provides:

  • Unregistered design protection in all of the EU member states
  • Automatic and broad protections to UK designers for qualifying designs first disclosed within the EU that would otherwise prejudice a subsequent application for a Community registered design right
  • That a disclosure in the UK by a designer is not novelty-destroying of a subsequent application for a registered Community design right if submitted within 12 months of the disclosure

In terms of the UK’s position following Brexit:

  • The UK will no longer be a member state afforded protection by the CUDR, so the 12-month grace period may not be available.
  • The UK Intellectual Property Office has stated that “protection for unregistered designs will continue to exist through the UK unregistered design right”.
  • However, given the UK unregistered design right offers a narrower protection than the CUDR, how the UK government will aim to fill in the gap between the CUDR and the UK unregistered design right remains to be seen.