Limited protection for designs is available without registration. There are two types of unregistered design protection in the UK:
- UK unregistered design protection lasts for up to 15 years from the moment the design is recorded, and applies to designs which are created or commissioned by EU citizens and companies.
- UK unregistered designs can protect the shape of a product, but not surface decorations or logos. Nor does it protect a design made to pair up with something else, for example a spare engine part.
- European unregistered design protection lasts for 3 years from the date when the design is first publicised, and applies to any designs.
- Designs must be new in order to attract protection.
- An important disadvantage of unregistered, rather than registered designs, is that they only protect your work if they are copied. Whereas a registered design protects you even if someone comes up with the same design independently.