Design registration protects the new and distinctive visual appearance of products resulting from industrial design by granting the owner exclusive rights for the duration of the design registration.
There are three essential requirements when considering design registration: confidentiality, ownership and registrability. These are outlined below.
Illustrated : the three key requirements for whether or not an industrial design can be design registered
At the outset it pays to get a basic appreciation of what’s involved in the design registration process, as well as work through the commercial outcomes you're seeking, what countries you wish to cover in order of priority, and research and budget projected expenses and timing.
You will need assistance and advice to complete the process, so it is worthwhile reaching out early to get some advice as to you best first steps. Professional advice could well change your approach, so it is advisable to get advice early.
An application for design registration requires a technical specification of the industrial design to be protected. This is easy if a technical draftsman can prepare hand drawings, or CAD engineering drawings can be adapted to meeting formal requirements. This is quite straightforward but the requirements are quite specific. The key here is to track what needs to be collated so that you can easily pull together what’s required when required.
Preliminary searching is not the norm. It may be recommended if there are particular concerns about newness, or distinctiveness — for example, if the design category is particularly crowded. Design registration is affected by what is already in the market, and otherwise in the public domain via publication.
This is the time to formalise a strategy and start the design registration process. The industrial design to be registered should be commercially complete, but not yet manufactured or released.
Design registration is not essential for commercial success. Design registration can be very quick, inexpensive and effective when a visually unique product is likely to be copied if left unprotected. This can be critical in some industries and commercial contexts. Examples include fashion, consumer electronics, household and FMCG where sales seasonal, high-volume or design-driven.
A product design is able to be registered if it remains unpublished by yourself of others, and is new and sufficiently distinctive (different) from existing designs in the same product category.
Design registration grants exclusive rights to use an industrial design applied to a particular product. Design registration right relate to visual appearance of the finished product rather than technical operation or underlying technical design.
Marking of design registered products is not compulsory, but it can be commercially and legal beneficially to describe a product or technology as applicable. Application or registration numbers can also be supplied.
The expenses associated with design registration are low and predictable as administrative processing is generally straightforward. Periodic renewal fees may fall due over the course of the design registration.
No, design rights are granted on a country-by-country basis though there is an international application process available for applicants in some countries.
Design registration is a relatively quick process. Conditional approval may proceed quickly, perhaps less than three months. Grant of enforceable rights usually takes 6–9 months to achieve.
Some countries have an unregistered design right, and sometimes copyright applies, but in many countries copyright protections cease upon industrial application of a design. Patent protection and utility model protection, where available, can assist in protecting technical features rather than visual appearance.
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