As most countries do not have (or only have very limited) unregistered design protection, protection overseas must be sought by registration which, with the exception of the European Union, must be sought on a country by country basis.
Whilst there is no global design registration, there are a number of international agreements which facilitate obtaining registered design protection in multiple countries.
Under the terms of an international convention to which most countries are party (the Paris Convention), a registered design application filed within 6 months of the first application to protect the design can be backdated to the date of filing of that first application. This means that a design can be disclosed non-confidentially following filing of a first application without preventing valid design protection being obtained in other countries.
Typically, a UK business or inventor will file an initial UK or EU registered design application and then consider whether or not to seek protection in other countries within 6 months of the initial filing.
When it comes to seeking protection outside the UK and EU, there are two main options:
An international design registration is generally more cost effective to obtain and maintain than individual design registrations in multiple countries.
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.