The UK has a thriving fashion industry and is seen as a creative leader. Sadly, one of the unintended consequences of Brexit will be a diminution in the legal protection afforded to fashion designs, putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage to its continental neighbours.

Currently, a new design (whether for an image, brand logo or other design) which is first shown in the UK gets automatic protection from copying for 3 years under the Community Design Regulation. When the Community Design Regulations were brought into force in December 2001, they were heralded as an important measure to protect European creativity and they have proved to be just that. In our experience, as intellectual property lawyers working for a range of creative businesses, the Community design right is a powerful tool and the vast majority of legal cases before the UK Courts relating to designs over the last few years have invoked Community rather than UK rights.

Gap in protection post Brexit

Once the UK leaves the EU, unless the UK government takes action, there will be a ‘gap’ in the protection of British designs. Although domestic UK design law provides a degree of protection, its scope expressly excludes surface decoration which is often a key feature of many designs. Moreover, UK design right only confers protection within the UK, leaving it open for anyone outside the UK to copy British designs with impunity. As a result, British designers will be forced to launch new products in the EU in order to benefit from better legal protection for their designs, significantly harming the UK’s landmark design events including London Fashion Week and 100% Design, to name but just two.

Have your views heard by UKIPO

With the Prime Minister poised to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, there is an urgent need for UK design-led businesses to make their voices heard.

We are hosting an evening bringing together UK design-led businesses across different industries to discuss these issues and consider the best way to secure the future of UK design. Alongside representatives from Supergroup and Joseph Joseph, we have secured attendance by the UK Intellectual Property Office who have been tasked with advising the UK government on the impact of Brexit.

This is your opportunity to explain how your business would be affected by the loss of the Community design right, and what protection you need for your business to thrive in post-Brexit Britain.

We will also be giving some practical advice about UK businesses can do to best protect their designs going forwards.

Please join us on 22nd March:

If you or your business is likely to be affected, please join the discussion on 22nd March. The event is being held at the offices of CMS (Olswang’s merger partner alongside Nabarro as of 1st May 2017) at Cannon Place, 78 Cannon St, London EC4N 6AF from 6-8pm.

For more information, see my LinkedIn post here:

To attend, please email

By: Sarah Wright
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