How to protect your jewellery design and brand.
The design of your jewellery is potentially its most valuable asset. This is why you should protect it with a registered design and prevent others benefiting from your hard work.
When creating a new design you should always think about intellectual property protection. In the UK, jewellery designs can attract a number of intellectual property rights. Some you have to apply for, others arise automatically.
A Registered Design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product or a part of a product in the country or countries you register it.
For the purposes of registration, a design is legally defined as being “the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation.”
So this means that the ring, necklace or brooch for example that you have designed can be legally protected. Design protection is all about the way your jewellery looks.
The appearance of your product may result from a combination of elements such as shapes, colours and materials. Registration gives you a 25-year monopoly during which time you have exclusive rights to exploit the design and prevent third parties from using it. Crucially, you don’t need to prove a competitor has actually copied your design to be able to successfully take action; owning the right is enough. Registration is relatively cheap and provided your design is new and has individual character, it is relatively straightforward to obtain.
But what if you don’t want to go to the expense of registering? You can also enter the unregistered design right, which rises arise automatically on creation or when recorded in a design document. They last for up to 15 years in the UK and three years in the EU. Be aware that when enforcing unregistered rights you will need to demonstrate that the infringer has actually copied your design. This can be difficult to prove. Infringers will often claim never to have seen your design or simply to have been inspired by it.
So you have protected the way your jewellery looks- what about its name!
You should also consider registering the brand or collection names associated with your jewellery. A brand is a promise of an experience. The more your build on your brand the more people will associate you and your jewellery with your brand and want to be associated with it- think Tiffany’s and the image that conveys on the wearer!
Registering a trade mark is the most effective way of legally protecting a brand and preventing competitors profiting from it. A registered trade mark gives exclusive rights to prevent others from using it in relation to the goods and services for which it is registered. Registration is indefinite but marks will need to be renewed every 10 years in the UK and Europe.