Ownership of Design Rights

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.  Prior to the change, designs created under a commissioning arrangement, for example by a company hiring an external agency to design a product for them, automatically belonged to the commissioning company.  The change reverses this position so that the design company will automatically own design rights created on or after 1st October 2014.  

The change is the default position unless there is an agreement in place to the contrary, which is best set-up as part of the initial agreement between the parties before the work is performed.  If not done, an assignment of the design rights will have to be agreed to transfer the design rights to the commissioning company.  

This change applies both to registered and unregistered design rights.  

There are no changes in respect of designs created by an employee in the course of their normal duties.  The employer will continue to own the design rights automatically.