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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

Intellectual Property Rights: unregistered designs

Unregistered designs may be protected in law under Part III of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988).

Part III of the CDPA 1988 provides that a property right, described as a design right, may subsist in an original design.

In this context “design” means:

the design of any aspect of the shape or configuration (whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article.
A design is not original if it is commonplace in the design field in question at the time of its creation.

However, design right does not subsist in:

  • a method or principle of construction,
  • features of shape or configuration of an article which –
  1. enable an article to be connected to, or placed in, around or against another article so that either article may perform its function, or

  2. are dependent upon the appearance of another article of which the article is intended by the designer to form an integral part, or

  • surface decoration.A design right within Part III of CDPA 1988 is an asset for the purposes of TCGA92/S21(1).

The first owner of a design right will normally be its designer except where it was commissioned or created by an employee in the course of employment when the commissioning party or employer will be treated as the first owner.

A design right within Part III of CDPA 1988 expires:

  • 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first recorded in a design document or an article was first made to the design whichever occurred first, or
  • If articles made to the design are made available for sale or hire within 5 years from the end of that calendar year, 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which that first occurred.Guidance on wasting assets within TCGA92/S44(1), i.e. assets with a predictable life not exceeding 50 years, is given at CG76700+.

Guidance on obtaining valuations of intangible assets including design rights is given at CG68300+.

Guidance on registered designs is given at CG68230.