19 May 2016

UK Government confirms reduction in UK registered design fees

In January we published the UK Government’s proposal to reduce significantly the fees for UK registered design applications. Designers had previously stated that registered design fees were ‘prohibitively expensive’. In addition, UK registered designs were simply seen as being ‘uncompetitive compared with […] Registered [European] Designs’.

We are pleased to confirm that the Government response to the proposal has now been published, and it’s good news for designers and those wishing to register designs in the UK.

The proposal included substantial reductions to filing fees, as set out below (for online filings):

No. of applications filed togetherTotal fees under old regimeTotal fees under new regimePercentage Saving

The new proposed fee regime has made filing multiple designs at the same time far cheaper than before.

In addition, renewal fees have been slashed by, on average, 60%.  The total cost of maintaining a UK Registered Design for its full term (25 years) will be £410, rather than £1,100.

The Government received 16 individual written responses to the proposal, and an additional 35 responses to an online survey. Those that responded gave near-unanimous support to the changes put forward. The majority of respondents stated that the fees had been a significant barrier to protecting their designs, with one respondent even commenting that it had acted as a barrier to moving their business forward. Overall the proposal changes were seen as a positive step forward in supporting SME businesses.

The Government has therefore confirmed that it will now take steps to amend the UK’s design legislation at the next suitable opportunity so as to introduce the proposed new fee regime.

With large reductions for multiple simultaneous filings, designers will have greater ability to protect their designs more robustly by filing multiple applications to cascade protection for their designs.  Furthermore, the proposed new fee regime will benefit designers who wish to protect UX and GUI designs, which typically have various different key design features (such as shape of graphic elements and transitions of these elements, as well as colour schemes and colour transitions).

The UK Supreme Court’s recent ‘Trunki Kiddee’ decision serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of registering designs and how they ought to be used, which this new proposed fee regime complements. Once implemented, the changes will ensure that it is cheaper for designers to obtain comprehensive protection.

With these welcome changes we certainly seem to be witnessing something of a renaissance of Registered Designs.  Historically, the UK registered design system and the Hague international design system have been somewhat neglected due to there being little incentive to use these systems.  However, with recent changes to these systems, and with more changes on the horizon, there are now a range of desirable options (i.e. Hague, UK and/or European Registered Designs) for protecting designs in the UK and beyond.

The full response can be found at – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/510010/Registered-design-fees-government-response.pdf

For more information please contact your attorney at Mathys & Squire or email us at [email protected]