While patents are the focus of many IP articles or careers information, they are not the only form of IP, and patent attorneys will from time to advise on the other forms of IP rights such as Copyright & Design.

Here, Claire Birro, MCITMA, Solicitor, and Dr Alicia Instone, CPA, EPA, MCITMA of Cleveland Scott York, give some more details on the different types of intellectual property that exist alongside patents.

What is Copyright?

Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work. So, for example, there is copyright in a book, a film, a painting or a song. Copyright protection arises automatically (i.e. there is no application process) and is infringed by copying.

You automatically get copyright protection as soon as you create original literary work, as well as original non-literary written work such as software code. Unlike a patent or trade mark, you don’t need to register your work to be protected.

The law of copyright has a wide application, whether you’re a modern day Shakespeare or credited with starting an internet craze like ‘flossing’.

The law of copyright protects your work and gives you legal recourse to prevent people from copying it and/or distributing copies of it without your permission. It can also be used to prevent others from performing, showing or playing your work in public, making an adaptation of your work or putting it on the internet.

Trade marks can be protected by copyright in addition to trade marks rights, so attorneys need to be familiar with copyright law.

What is a UK Unregistered Design?

UK unregistered designs protect the shape and configuration of a design. UK unregistered design protection arises automatically once a design has been recorded in a design document (i.e. there is no application process) and is infringed by copying. UK unregistered designs last for 15 years from creation or 10 years from first marketing, whichever expires first.

What is a Community Unregistered Design?

Community unregistered designs protect the shape and configuration and/or the surface decoration of a design.  Community unregistered design protection arises automatically once a design has been made available to the public within the Community (i.e. there is no application process) and is infringed by copying.  Community unregistered designs last for 3 years.

What is a Registered Design?

There are both UK and Community registered designs which protect the shape and configuration and/or the surface decoration of a design which can include a 2D image, cartoon character or GUI as well as traditional 3D articles.  In order to obtain a UK or Community registered design an application needs to be made to either the UKIPO or to the EUIPO as applicable.

Both UK and Community registered designs are true monopoly rights and copying doesn’t need to be show for there to be infringement, only that the infringing design gives the same overall impression on the informed user as the UK or Community registered design.  UK and Community registered designs last for up to 25 years with renewal fees having to be paid every 5 years.

This article was contributed to IP Careers by Claire Birro, MCITMA, Solicitor, and Dr Alicia Instone, CPA, EPA, MCITMA, both of Cleveland Scott York.

About the Author

  • Name: Claire Birro and Dr Alicia Instone
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