5 December 2022Staff Writer

Brexit driving design applications surge: report

UK has been outside the scope of EU-registered designs since 1 January, 2021 | Investors “increasingly keen” to see design rights and other IP is properly protected say report’s authors.

Applications to register designs in the UK have surged since Brexit, hitting a record high of 67,000 in the year ended 30 September, 2022, according to a new report from IP firm Mathys & Squire.

In the past year, an average of 5,586 design applications were filed each month, according to the report. In 2019-2020 (the year leading up to Brexit), the average number of monthly applications was 2,480.

Since the end of the transition period on 1 January, 2021, the UK has fallen outside the scope of EU-registered designs, meaning that applicants have been required to register a product design in the UK and the EU to obtain protection once obtained through a single EU registered design application.

While applications increased to hit a record high of 67,034 designs in the year ended 30 September, 2022, the year before saw an even larger hike. In the year ended 30 September, 2021, design applications 65,248, up from 29,758 in the prior year.

Max Thoma, managing associate at Mathys & Squire, said: “Design applications have seen a sharp spike in the last year and these figures are likely to remain high, as businesses will continue to have to register designs in both the UK and Europe.”

“Not having adequate protections in place for designs could have significant ramifications for businesses. Investors are increasingly keen to see that design rights and other IP is properly protected before they invest. That means failure to protect rights could see businesses miss out on crucial opportunities to grow.”

According to statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization, released in November, the UK received 2.3 times more designs in applications in 2021 than in the prior year, making it the third most active office in terms of application design count in 2021.

An estimated 1.2 million industrial design applications containing 1.5 million designs were filed worldwide in 2021, amounting to growth of 9.2%.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the European Commission proposed the revision of industrial design rules to make it cheaper, quicker and more straightforward to protect industrial designs across the EU.

Under the proposals, the EU-wide ‘repair clause’ will be introduced into the Design Directive, which the Commission said will open up and increase competition in the spare parts market.

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