27 January 2020

IP trends for 2020: designs

For the second in our series ofIP trends for 2020′ articles, we’re looking at designs and how they are likely to be affected by both Brexit and a push for sustainability in the coming 12 months.

The election result at the end of 2019 appears to resolve some of the uncertainty around the UK’s exit of the EU, not least with regards to IP matters such as registered designs.

The UK is now set to leave on 31 January 2020, and the UK government’s current withdrawal agreement provides for a ‘transition period’ lasting until 31 December 2020. EU trade mark and registered design filings made during this time will continue to cover the UK. At the end of the transition period, granted EU registered designs will be ‘cloned’ into corresponding UK registered designs at no cost to their owners. This means that design-focused businesses can continue to file EU registered design applications in 2020 and these will continue to provide protection in the UK even beyond the transition period (if granted before the 31 December).

Only EU registered design applications which are still pending at the end of the transition period will need to be re-filed as UK registered design applications (which will necessitate the payment of further official fees). Since it typically only takes a few weeks for EU registered design applications to register, there is no need for applicants to consider a change to their design filing practice until December 2020. We therefore anticipate a trend of companies taking advantage of this transition period to obtain registered design protection across the UK and the EU via a single application.

Another major design trend we expect to see in 2020 is an increase in product packaging innovations. As touched on in our first 2020 trends article (here), consumers are more aware than ever of the impact of their consumption habits on the environment. This has resulted in a focus on sustainability – the use of reusable coffee cups has risen dramatically, and major supermarkets are starting to respond to demand to offer alternatives to disposable packaging for food products, produce and other consumer goods.

Designers now face the challenge of creating packaging which provides reliable and effective protection for goods at a reduced cost to the environment. After all, the disposal of goods spoiled as a result of inadequate and ineffective packaging is just as wasteful and environmentally damaging as the disposal of the packaging. With this in mind, we wonder whether in 2020 we might see increasing innovation in packaging design, construction and materials in order to overcome these challenges in a sustainable manner.

Further information on what Brexit means for registered designs – and all other aspects of intellectual property – can be found via our Brexit page (here). For expert advice on design law, whether you’re a startup, established household name or overseas attorney, contact a member of our specialist designs team, who can help to secure strategic protection for your designs internationally.

Max Thoma