UK Intellectual Property Office calls for views on the design system

Leaving the EU has provided the impetus for the UK Government to review the current UK design system. This is part of a broader initiative to ensure that the UK intellectual property system is best in class to enable innovation and creativity.

The UK Intellectual Property Office ("UK IPO") is calling for views on the current design system from designers, design-led businesses, and manufacturers, which will inform the Government on whether any reforms are required.  

Specifically, the UK IPO is interested in finding out:  

  • Whether or not the current system can be simplified
  • Opinions on novelty searching (i.e. the ease with finding any earlier similar designs)
  • The impact of Brexit on disclosure requirements for unregistered designs – one consequence of leaving the EU is that a product is now only protected in the territory in which it is first disclosed, as a supplementary unregistered design in the UK or as an unregistered community design in the EU
  • Opinions on the possible introduction of a deferment provision in UK law – this would provide the right to defer the publication of a registered design, allowing it to be kept confidential for a longer period
  • If the system is flexible enough to protect designs based on new technology created for digital environments or using AI
  • Designer's experience of enforcing rights and what changes they would like to see

Responses are requested before 25 March 2022 via the online survey: The survey can be completed here: Reviewing the designs framework: Call for views – Intellectual Property Office – Citizen Space. This precedes a further call up for more in depth views.

It has been reported that back in 2012, Mr David Cameron, the prime minister at the time, commented that design law had been neglected.  Critics point to the fact that design law often only protects three dimensional designs rather than two. Interestingly, it is a criminal offence to copy a two-dimensional design but not a three-dimensional design.

This is a good opportunity for designers to put forward their thoughts and to help modernise the design system. Hopefully, there will be more engagement on this survey than other recent IP surveys.

Chandni Jobanputra, Associate