By registering a design the proprietor obtains the exclusive right for 25 years (provided renewal fees are paid every 5 years) to make, offer, put on the market, import or export the design, or stock the product for the above purposes.
These rights are infringed by a third party who does any of the above with the design, for commercial gain.
Design applicants have to provide a copy of their design. You can ask the us to check if your design would infringe an existing design. If it would infringe, you may be able to agree terms with the owner, or even buy the design from them. If you find you are infringing get professional advice quickly from a patent attorney, trade mark agent or a solicitor, because the owner can sue you. What if someone sues you for infringing?
There are two basic types of defence if someone claims you are infringing their design:
- You are not infringing- what you are doing does not infringe their design, or
- The design is invalid – you can take legal action to challenge the validity of the design. If you win, their design may be cancelled (revoked). The loser usually has to pay the legal costs of both sides, so think hard before starting legal action.If someone intends to sue you for infringement, you can try to reach agreement with them on using their design.Patent Office website 19.1.07