Changes to UK Designs & Patents Law


From 1st October 2014, the UK Intellectual Property Act 2014 introduces some important changes to UK Designs and Patent Law.

One of the major changes concerns the ownership of commissioned designs (e.g. under a "work for hire" arrangement) in the UK.  Intentionally copying a registered design also becomes a criminal offence. The UK Government have issued a summary booklet that gives further details on the design changes.


Regarding UK Designs Law, the major changes include

  • the ownership of a commissioned design will now vest with the designer rather than the entity commissioning the design.  This is unless there is an agreement to the contrary.  For employers, the position remains that the employer owns design rights in designs created by employees in the course of their normal duties.
  • the intentional copying of a registered design will become a criminal offence.
  • there will be a form of ‘prior user right’ providing a degree of protection from infringement for people using a design that subsequently becomes registered by another entity.
  • a restriction on actions for infringement in respect of very small, trivial parts of an unregistered design (“parts of parts”).
  • provisions for non-infringement of unregistered designs for certain private, non-commercial, educational or experimental uses.
  • there will be some liability for innocent infringement of registered designs, which will be based on profit rather than damages.


​Regarding UK Patents law, the major changes include

  • allowing the marking of products with a website which displays relevant patent rights.
  • expanding the UK Patent Office's Patents Opinions Service to cover a wider range of disputes.


Separate articles will follow giving more details on some of the more important aspects.