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UK designs framework: an opportunity to shape change

Posted on 18 January 2022

The UK Intellectual Property Office has published a Designs Framework Survey seeking views on the UK designs system. The short survey, aimed at designers, design-led businesses and manufacturers, is provided in advance of a Call for Views, which will seek more in-depth information on designs issues. This review is one of several the UKIPO is conducting following Brexit, in a bid to ensure that the UK's intellectual property regime functions as it should. In particular in the case of the designs framework, the aim is to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place for designers to first disclose their designs and also to apply for registered protection. As the UKIPO states in introducing the survey, "the Government's ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to innovate".

The survey is aimed at gathering brief responses to the ways in which the UK designs system currently works well, but also the ways in which it can be improved. The Government intends to analyse the responses to decide whether any changes are needed to the current designs system. Further information will then be sought as part of the planned Call for Views. The topics covered in the survey cover the full spectrum of design protection; in addition to the obvious topics, it also covers the interaction between the digital environment (including online gaming, AI and avatar content) and the new design rights created in the UK following Brexit (see our piece on these new protections here).

A number of design-led sectors will be affected by any changes made to the current system: in particular, fashion and jewellery design and manufacturing; industrial and graphic design; product design, for example in furniture and ceramics; art and sculptures; games and toys design and manufacturing; architecture; consumer electronics; automotive (including spare parts manufacturers); computer programming and software publishing.

However, all those who benefit from design rights or work in a design-led business should consider taking part and provide their response to the survey, as this is a unique opportunity to shape the UK designs system.

In 2021 the EU Commission also sought views on the EU-wide designs regime on selected matters such as the rules on spare parts protection (being of particular interest to the automotive sector) and is proposing to revise the Designs Directive (98/71/EC) and the Community Designs Regulation (6/2002/EC). Designers who use the EU design framework should also monitor the outcome of the Commission's consultation.

The UKIPO survey closes on 7 February 2022.

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