Explanation of unregistered and registered design rights
Unregistered Design Rights
As the creator of a design you have certain rights in that design without taking any further action, this is know as an unregistered design right.
If you own an unregistered design right you can prevent anyone else from copying or exploiting that design. This protection extends to ‘the design of any aspect of the shape or configuration(whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article.’
There are limits though as only the three dimensional shape of that article or design is protected and it is not a monopoly right, you have to prove direct copying.
This can be tricky in practice and difficult to enforce.
Registered Design Rights
You can improve the protection afforded to your design by registering it.
Registered design rights can be used to protect the appearance of a product or any part of it provided it has individual character.
Both the two and three dimensional aspects of a product or design are protected so this includes surface decorations, lines, contours, colours, shapes, textures, materials or ornamentation.
As the owner of a registered design right you have a monopoly right and can prevent anyone else from using the design and can control and manage how a design is used and exploited.