Where a design is registered, the owner will often mark the product or associated materials with the registered design number(s) but this is generally not a requirement and so not always the case.
Registered designs can be located by searching the design registers. You can generally search using the name of the owner or designer or by the type of product that the design is applied to.
Unregistered designs cannot, of course, be searched. However, unregistered design rights can only be infringed by copying, meaning that you can only infringe an unregistered right in a design if you are aware of the design. Therefore, where you are aware of an existing design which has provided inspiration for a new design, thought should be given as to whether or not unregistered rights subsist in the existing design and if any such rights may be infringed by the new design.
Clearing a new design for use can be complex. As such, it is sensible to seek professional advice when trying to establish if you are free to make, use or sell a new product.
Wilson Gunn can advise on all aspects of intellectual property protection. Please get in touch to speak to a member of our team about design protection.