Government aims to simplify laws protecting designs

The Government is aiming to simplify the UK’s designs legal framework – the system businesses use to protect their designs – in a bid to make the system more accessible.

The Intellectual Property Office is consulting on a series of proposals to improve the system. These are:

• Improving the enforcement regime to promote better understanding of rights held by others and to help avoid disputes;

• Resolving uncertainties around the scope of protection;

• Simplifying the laws relating to the ownership of and qualification for design right;

• Improving the provision of information about design; and

• Enabling UK design owners to be more selective about which countries they seek international registration for.

The consultation period is open until 2 October, to take part in the consultation process visit

The bid to change the legal framework follows last year’s Hargreaves Review which recommended that the system should be simplified.

To support the initiative, the Government has also carried out a review into design’s importance to the UK economy, which has found that around 35 per cent of UK exports come from industries that employ higher-than-average concentrations of designers.

It also shows that the UK exports almost 50 per cent more design than it imports. Key export markets for design are France, Germany, the Republic of Ireland and the USA. China accounts for less than 2 per cent of exports, and India less than 1 per cent.

To read the IPO’s UK Design as a Global Industry report, visit

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