UK Registered Designs: displaying your rights using webmarking from 1 October 2017

September 2017

Showing the world the registered design protection you have for your products in the UK will get easier from 1 October 2017; from this date you will have the option of marking your product with a web address which associates the product with a UK registered design number(s).  

Webmarking

Currently owners of UK registered designs are entitled to mark their product with the word ‘registered’, or an abbreviation of that word, together with the number of the registered design.  From 1 October 2017 products can be marked by using a web address/internet link which clearly sets out the registered design number(s) relevant to that product.  The internet address provided needs to be accessible free of charge and clearly associate the product with the number of the design.   This change does not prevent owners still being able to mark a product with the registered design number as well as, or instead of, a web mark, or not mark their product at all if they prefer (which will reduce the likelihood of successfully claiming damages from an infringer since that is the only real benefit of marking a product with a design registration number – an infringer cannot easily suggest they were unaware that the design was registered). 

The UKIPO has released Business Guidance on Webmarking of Products Protected by Registered Designs.  Guidance states that:

  • It is in the registered design owner’s interest to ensure that clear, accessible and up-to-date information is provided on the webpage, making it easy for the public to ascertain which registered designs apply to the product. The product must be clearly identified, for example by including any relevant model numbers and variants that exist.
  • Providing clear information will ensure that the registered design owner is in with the best chance of being awarded damages as a result of any infringement proceedings.
  • Providing the web address of the home page of a company website is unlikely to suffice – unless on that home page there is a clear association between the product and the relevant registered design number.

Webmarking potentially provides a convenient and effective way to show the registered design protection relating to your products in the UK.  Intellectual Property rights may change over the lifetime of a product, so webmarking will allow rights holders to keep information up to date and ensure that infringers cannot claim that they did not know the design was protected.  As webmarking is already available for patents, this change for designs means that businesses will be able to use a single web link for displaying both patents and registered designs associated with a product, if they wish.  

If you have a query relating to webmarking of products our experts at HGF are on hand to provide you with more information on displaying your IP rights.

This update was prepared by HGF Partners Mark Lunt and Marie McMorrow.  If you would like further advice on this or any other matter, please contact Mark or Marie. Alternatively, you can contact your usual HGF representative or visit our Contact page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.