UK registered designs are getting much cheaper – and why this is important in the wake of the Trunki® decision and the Brexit vote

On 1 October 2016, the UKIPO will implement its new pricing system for registered designs as it looks to modernise the UK’s registered design system.  The new pricing system includes significant discounts for those filing applications with multiple designs.  Whereas previously, there was an official fee of £60 for the first design in an application and £40 for each design thereafter, the new system will include a fee of £50 for an application containing a single design, or a fee of £70 for a multiple design application containing up to ten designs, with an additional fee of £20 for every ten thereafter.  This represents a saving of £350 in official fees on the first ten designs filed and £380 on every further ten designs.  This works out to an official fee per design approaching as little as £2 for large multiple design applications under the new pricing structure.

Additionally, the UKIPO is making it cheaper to maintain your design protection for longer, as renewal fees are receiving similar reductions.  Whereas previously, maintaining a registered design for 25 years would cost £1100 in official fees, under the new system, the same term will cost only £410.

How you can take advantage of the new pricing structure and change your filing strategy

These fee reductions will very likely impact the optimal registered design filing strategy for any product or set of products, especially as design strategies evolve in response to the Trunki® v Kiddee decision and the Brexit referendum result.

The consensus following the decision in the Trunki® v Kiddee case is that, to shore up your design protection, it may be best to file multiple designs for each product, with different designs focussing on different aspects of the product.  With the new registered design pricing system being introduced by the UKIPO, not only is it cheaper to file multiple design applications, but it does not cost any more in official fees to file ten designs than it costs to file two.  Therefore, there really is no excuse not to make use of those extra designs, free from official fees, to improve the protection of your product.

While, as things stand, registered European Community designs also cover the UK, this will not be the case when the UK eventually leaves the European Union.  We anticipate that a new legal mechanism will be introduced to extend protection of registered European Community designs to the UK.  However, there is significant uncertainty over what form this legal mechanism will take, how it will be activated by design owners and whether it will involve costs.  The reduced design fees at the UKIPO provide another reason to opt for the certainty and peace of mind that come with a dual European Community and UK filing strategy in preparation for Brexit.  By filing a UK design together with a European Community design there is no need to wait for the details of the legal mechanism for conversion.  Also, the reduction in official fees at the UKIPO means that the additional costs of a dual filing strategy are now lower than ever.

For more advice on how to protect your registered designs, please contact Michael Lord or Peter Arrowsmith on 020 7655 8500.

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