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Changes to UK unregistered designs law from 1 January 2021

Date: 25 January 2021


1. Continuing Unregistered Design


The European Union provides protection for designs via the so called Unregistered Community Design (UCD). The protection conferred is akin to copyright, in that rights arise without a registration process, subject to various qualifying criteria being met.


The UK left the European Union on 31 December 2019, and the one year transition period expired on 31 December 2020. As a result, existing UCDs are no longer valid in the UK and it is no longer possible to obtain UCD rights in the UK.


To prevent owners of UCDs being disadvantaged, the UK government has provided that as from 1 January 2020, existing EU UCD rights relating to the UK will automatically convert to a new UK right, called a “Continuing Unregistered Design”. These will continue to provide protection for the remainder of the three year term of the originating EU UCD.


2. Supplementary Unregistered Design (SUD)


SUD is a new unregistered design protection in the UK. It will coexist alongside UK Design Right, which has for many years been the UK’s national unregistered design rights system. The purpose of SUD is to ensure that designs created in the UK enjoy the same options for protection after Brexit as before. Thus, the requirements for qualification as a SUD and the protection offered by a SUD will be similar to those for UCDs. SUDs will be established by first disclosure in the UK (UCDs require disclosure in the EU) and the protection conferred by SUDs will extend to the UK only.


3. Further information


Further information on these changes can be found here: Guidance for businesses who have unregistered Community designs


Our attorneys can provide further advice on the various forms of protection for designs in the UK: Contact Us