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Great Britain registered designs

Cranberry glass creamer and bowl English Mark Strizic. H2008.11/428 UK design class 11-02  'glassware'In the UK there are several different kinds of protection for designs, the main two being registered design rights and unregistered design rights. Registered designs are granted exclusive rights for up to 25 years. Unregistered Design Rights are automatically given legal protection for up to 15 years. The UK Intellectual Property Office details the different kinds of protection applying to designs.

Design registration began in the United Kingdom in 1787, for the protection of textile designs. The Designing and Printing of Linen Act provided 2 months protection from the date of first publication, and was extended to three months in 1794. No records of registration have survived. In 1839 protection was extended to other types of fabrics (not just linens, cottons, calicoes and muslins), and then to articles of manufacture. Legislation in 1839 and 1842 provided protection for up to one year for textile designs, and for three years for ornamental designs of certain goods.

Prior to 1883, there were two separate numerical sequences for design registrations. One for ornamental designs (Numbers 1-408,892), and another for Non-ornamental (useful) designs (Numbers 1-6,740). From 1 August 1884, all designs, except textile designs, were registered in one numerical sequence, beginning with number 1. Textile design registrations continued in a separate sequence. From 1907 to July 1989, 15 years (5+5+5) protection was the maximum granted. From August 1989, registered designs have a maximum 25 years protection.

Historical designs are kept in the UK National Archives up until 1991. More recent design registrations are kept in the UK Intellectual Property Office.

British design journals

Print journals

The State Library holds British patents journals, which contain listings of patents, designs and trademarks. They give weekly listings of registered designs.

The designs are listed by design number, so if possible, find out  this number first. Details of designs include design numbers, names and addresses of registrants and registration classes and the date of registration. The titles varied over the years: see the  links to the titles of the journal below.  These journals are held offsite, and volumes  need to be requested by a librarian.

Commissioners of Patents' journal, 1878-1883.

  • Includes weekly lists of registered designs, with design numbers, names of registrants and registration Classes (1-13)

The official journal of the Patent Office, 1884-1889.

  • Includes weekly lists of registered designs, with design numbers, names of registrants and registration Classes (1-14)

The illustrated official journal (patents), 1889-1931.

  • Includes lists of designs registered in each Class (1-14) with names of registrants and registration and registered design numbers

Official journal (patents), 1932-1997.

  • Includes lists of names of registrants, registration Class (1-14), titles of designs, and date of registration

The patents and designs journal, 1997-Jan. 30, 2002

  • Includes lists of names of registrants, registration Classes (1-14), titles of designs, and date of registration 

Online journals

View journals published in the last 12 months via the UK Intellectual Property Office

British design indexes

Print name indexes

No separate name indexes available at the State Library - see the names of registrants, listed in the journals upon registration.

Online indexes

Currently registered British designs - available via the UK Intellectual Property Office

Online guide

See the National Archives UK   Guide to finding UK registered designs 1839-1991  



British designs are registered under classes. Up until the end of 1932, classes were based on the type of material, and not by the type of product. Class numbers are listed  in the patents journals. See the Classes boxes on this page for a listing of classes.

13 design classes were used between 1878 to 1883.

14 design classes were used in the years 1884-1932.

British designs are currently registered under the Locarno International Classification for Industrial Designs.


Design classes 1878 to 1883

13 design classes were used between 1878 to 1883. Designs were classified by the material of the item. The following list is taken from The Commissioners of Patents journal, no. 2542, May 14, 1878, page 1181.

Class 1.   Metal

Class 2.   Wood

Class 3.   Glass

Class 4.   Earthenware, bone, ivory,  papier mâché or other solid substances not in classes 1, 2 and 3.

Class 5    Paper hangings

Class 6    Carpets, floor cloths, or oil cloths

Class 7    Shawls (printed patterns)

Class 8    Shawls not in class 7

Class 9    Yarn, thread, or warp (printed).

Class 10   Woven fabrics (printed patterns), not included in Class 11

Class 11   Woven fabrics, technically called furnitures (printed patterns) the repeat of the pattern exceeding 12 inches by 8 inches. . 

Class 12   Woven  fabrics not included in any preceding class.

Class 13   Lace and any other articles not included in any preceding class.

Morris Mini-Minor

Launched in 1959, the Morris Mini-Minor (the Mini), designed by Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation (BMC), became an icon of the 1960's.

 Source: Design Museum

Classes of designs

14 design classes were used 1884-1932.

As listed in the Official journal of the Patent Office, July 2, 1886, p. 220

Designs  were classified by the material of the article.

Class 1.  Metal, not included in Class 2.

Class 2.  Jewellery.

Class 3.  Wood, bone, ivory, papier mâché, or other solid substances not included in other classes.

Class 4.  Glass, earthenware or porcelain, bricks, tiles or cement.

Class 5.   Paper (except hangings).

Class 6.   Leather, including book-binding, of all materials.

Class 7.   Paper hangings

Class 8.   Carpets and rugs in all materials, floorcloths and oil cloths.

Class 9.   Lace, hosiery

Class 10.  Millinery and wearing apparel, including boots and shoes.

Class 11.  Ornamental needlework on muslin  or other textile fabrics.

Class 12.  Goods not included in other classes.

Class 13.  Printed or woven designs on textile piece goods.

Class 14.  Printed or woven designs on handkerchiefs and shawls.

National Archives UK website

The State Library of Victoria does not hold the British designs, only the listings of designs and the proprietors, in the patents journals. See the print journals section on this page.

The National Archives UK website has a guide on how to find British designs 1839 to 1991. The designs are held in the Board of Trade records at the National Archives. The designs have not been digitised,  but you can order a copy of a design to be sent to you. 

Diamond marks

Diamond marks were issued by the British Patent Office between 1842 and 1883. They were issued with the registration number when a design was registered. A diamond mark showed that an item was designed in Britain and the design had been registered. It also meant that the person registering it had legal protection against others copying it.

Diamond marks were printed, engraved or otherwise marked on a design – for example on the underside of china or the reverse of printed fabric.

The mark was in the shape of a diamond with numbers and letters marked at specific points to represent:

  • the type of material used (known as the class)
  • how many items were included (sometimes known as bundles or packages)
  • the day, month and year of registration

Diamond marks included a letter code to represent the year the design was registered. By the end of 1867 the alphabet had been used in full and the diamond mark had to be altered to avoid repetition.

This means that the letters and numbers used to represent dates are at different points of the diamond between 1842-1867 and 1868-1883.

The mark at the top of the diamond was a Roman numeral representing the material the item was made from. These did not change position. See the National Archives UK web page Intellectual property: registered designs 1839-1991  for more information. These images are from their website.