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design right


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Legal protection for the external appearance of an article, including its shape, configuration, pattern, or ornament. A design right is distinct from a patent, which protects the internal workings of the article. The right entitles the owner to prevent others making articles to the same design. Design rights in the UK are either registered (see registered design) or unregistered. Registered designs must have aesthetic appeal; they are protected under the Registered Designs Act 1949 as amended and last for a maximum of 25 years provided renewal fees are paid. Unregistered designs, which came into existence in 1989, are protected under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In the EU an unregistered design right lasts for three years from the point at which the design is first disclosed or made available to the public in some manner. In the UK unregistered rights last for ten years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first made into a marketable product. The date at which the design was first fixed in a tangible form is also taken into account, and the duration should not exceed 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first recorded. The UK's ten-year duration is split into two five-year periods: exclusive rights are retained for the first five years, but during the remaining five years other parties are allowed to apply for licenses to the design (for which royalties can be charged). For UK designers, both the UK and EU rights can exist at the same time. It is also possible to register an EU-wide Community Design Right that provides protection in all EU member states.

Subjects: Law.


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