UK Unregistered Design Right

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Prior to 1 July 1989, three dimensional designs of, for example, a kettle could potentially be protected as registered designs and/or as copyright works. If the design was registerable, copyright protection was only available for 15 years from first marketing of articles made to the design whereas if the design was not registerable then, extraordinarily, it enjoyed full term copyright protection, which at the time was life of the designer + 50 years. This meant that the designer of a non-registerable functional item (such as famously an exhaust pipe) was able, at least in theory, to enjoy very lengthy protection from competition – much longer than he would get, for example, from a patent.

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