If you’re a designer, you’ll always find inspiration from the things around you. Your creativity and innovativeness are what will sell your ideas and designs while sitting in comfort by resetting thermostat. However, you’re not the only designer. There are so many people with innovative and inventive designs. And sometimes, you could have the same idea as others.

Therefore, it’s essential to legalize your ideas and designs before someone else makes them their own. So, how do you do this?

If you don’t want other artists to emulate your designs, you need to protect your work legally. This way, you’re covered by copyright infringement laws. There’s a thin line between getting inspiration from someone else’s designs and copying their exclusive designs.

Let’s talk about design protection rights.

Design protection

Intellectual property law allows designers (and other creatives) to earn from their work. It stops other people from copying the designs and selling or otherwise benefitting from them without due credit and compensation.

In many countries, the UK for instance, copyright protection lasts for a minimum of 50 years after the design owner dies.

On the other hand, patents protect people’s inventions, whether individual or company. This gives you the right to decide how and who makes and sells anything known as your invention.

However, when it comes to designs, there are three legal rights that protect them. These are;

  • Unregistered design rights
  • Registered design rights
  • Artistic copyrights

Unregistered design rights

There’s no protection for unregistered designs under the US patent law statute. However, unregistered design rights and copyright usually stand up automatically. They offer exclusive rights against copying of designs of other people.

However, unregistered design rights always come with certain limitations. They include;

  • A person can only infringe unregistered design rights by copying
  • They can be challenging to prove
  • You have to provide proof of design creation, ownership, and date of public disclosure or first publication

The good thing about unregistered design rights is that they are automatic; one does not need to register or apply for anything to get legal protection. Therefore, you can use them as a fallback position if you have no other legal protection against your designs like registered design rights.

Unregistered design rights may cover things like color, appearance, texture, and materials.

However, you shouldn’t rely on unregistered rights for your work as it won’t provide the best legal protection. For instance, the rights do not cover construction methods and features of surface decoration.

Also, there are some factors that influence the application of unregistered design rights, including;

  • The nationality of the designer
  • Place of first public disclosure
  • Where the design was created

Although unregistered design rights may protect your works for an extended period for little to no cost, it’s still wise to register your designs. It can be challenging to enforce unregistered design rights, something that places your designs at risk of being copied by unauthorized people.

Registered design rights

Registering your designs gives you complete legal protection. These rights protect your designs for up to 25 years from the date of registration.

It doesn’t cost much to register your designs. Apply for registration before the designs come into the market. Once your designs are registered, you can sell them either by granting a license or selling the registration.

A registered design offers legal protection to the looks and feels of the product.

The initial registration lasts for five years. After this period, you’re required to renew your design registration for up to 25 years.

Applying for design registration

There’s a criteria to be followed when registering for design rights:

  • Novelty. your design must be new and have an individual character. There should be absolutely no resemblance with any other design that already exists
  • Should not be solely dictated by functionality. The technical function of the design should not determine the appearance of the product
  • Individual character. The design/product should have a unique appearance and impression.

It’s easy and inexpensive to apply for the registration of your designs. Hence, registered designs are ideal for manufacturers whose products have a quick turnaround time as you have for when 1movies is not working. However, you should start by searching for identical or similar designs already in the market. If there’s none, you can go ahead and register your design to get complete legal protection.

Artistic copyrights

It’s essential to protect your intellectual property rights by registering the copyright for your artistic works. However, for your artwork to be copyright-protected, it should be affixed in a tangible form such as sculpture, drawing, or painting.

Ideally, your artwork is copyrightable if;

  • It’s your original work
  • It’s fixed in a tangible form or object such as a canvas or paper.

Artistic copyrights allow the owner of the art to make, sell or distribute copies of the work and to display the artwork in public.

Some types of artwork entitled to copyright protection include;

  • Decals and stickers
  • Artwork applied to T-shirts, fabric, and other clothing
  • Sculpture
  • Jewelry designs
  • Cartoons and comic strips
  • Original posters and prints

In the U.S., it’s not mandatory to register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to get copyright protection. However, registration comes with a number of advantages, including;

  • Establishing a record of your copyright ownership
  • It gives you the mandate to sue someone for copyright infringement

Registration can be done online or on paper. Online applications are much faster and inexpensive compared to paper applications. You also need to provide a copy or copies of your artistic works.


It’s good to get inspired by another person’s work. However, if you find yourself copying a whole design, then you’ll be going against the rules that protect designs. Unregistered design rights are automatic and provide legal protection for designs immediately after the designs are disclosed or marketed publicly.

However, these rights do not offer complete protection to your designs; it is challenging to prove unregistered design rights. We, therefore, encourage you to register. If you have a new design that’s not solely dictated by functionality and has an individual character, it’s essential to protect it with registered design rights.

If you’re planning to venture into real estate and have a new idea/design, contact a real estate lawyer to guide you through the registration process.