The moment you create an original piece of material, you are automatically granted copyright protection according to UK law. If someone takes a liking to your work, and tries to steal it to capitalise or create replicas, you are protected – providing you can produce original documentation and evidence.
However, it might be handy to note that should you find your demands for thieves to take your work down falls on deaf ears; you have the option of taking proceedings to court. You may find you have more of a leg to stand on if you invest in registering your designs and/or artwork through an official scheme; giving you an extra layer of protection and more to add to your creative artillery.
In the U.K you can register your designs through the .gov.uk website. This service can set you back anywhere between £50 – £150 to register from 1 up to 50 different pieces. You can view the full price list here. You will usually get a response within a fortnight of investigation; and should they have no objections, your work will be registered immediately. You also have the option of manually checking whether similar designs exist in the registry, using the links outlined here, or pay a fee of £24 to have the Intellectual Property Office check for you before you make your submission.
Another website you can use to register material through is the UK Copyright Service, with online registration fees starting at around £42.50. Click here to take you there directly.
Pros: Added protection & official paperwork to back you up should you need to escalate a dispute by taking it to court.
Cons: Sometimes seen as an unnecessary investment – as you are automatically protected.