Industrial Design Protection FAQs

What is an industrial design?

An industrial design is the decorative or aesthetic component of a product in a legal sense. An industrial design may include three-dimensional elements, such as an article’s form, or two-dimensional elements, such as patterns, lines, or color.

What kind of protection does an industrial design right offer?

In general, the owner of a registered industrial design or a design patent has the right to prevent third parties from making, selling, or importing articles bearing or embodying a design that is a copy, or substantially a copy, of the protected design when such acts are carried out for commercial gain.

What kind of products can benefit from industrial design protection?

Industrial designs are used on a wide range of industrial and handcrafted things, ranging from packaging and containers to furniture and home goods, lighting equipment to jewelry, and electrical gadgets to textiles. Graphic symbols, graphical user interfaces (GUI), and logos may also be significant to industrial designs.

How are industrial designs protected?

In most countries, an industrial design must be registered in order to be protected as a “registered design” under industrial design legislation. Industrial designs are protected as “design patents” in several nations under patent law.

Industrial design laws in some countries grant – without registration – time- and scope limited protection to so-called “unregistered industrial designs”.

Depending on the national law and the kind of design, industrial designs may also be protected as works of art under copyright law.

How long does industrial design protection last?

Industrial design rights are granted for a set period. The term of industrial design protection varies by nation; however, it is usually at least ten years. Many nations split the overall term of protection into successive renewal periods.

How are industrial design rights enforced?

Industrial design rights are often enforced in court, usually on the initiative of the rights’ owner, as provided for by relevant legislation. The remedies and punishments differ by nation and might be civil (injunctions to stop an infringement, payment of damages, etc.), criminal, or administrative in nature.

What is the difference between an industrial design right and a patent?

A patent protects an innovation that gives a novel technological solution to a problem, but an industrial design right protects just the look or aesthetic characteristics of a product. In general, an industrial design right does not protect a product’s technical or functional aspects. Such traits, however, might be protected by a patent.

Applying for industrial design protection

What conditions must be met to obtain industrial design protection?

Independently generated industrial designs must meet any or all of the following requirements, depending on the applicable laws: novelty/originality.

The evaluation of uniqueness and originality differs per country. In general, an industrial design is regarded new or innovative if it has not previously been revealed to the public, and it may be called original if it differs considerably from known designs or combinations of recognized design aspects.

Who grants industrial design registrations or design patents?

The IP office of the nation (or area) where an application is lodged grants industrial design registrations or design patents. View a list of national and regional intellectual property offices.

Do I need an agent to file an application?

You may file an application for the registration of an industrial design or the issuance of a design patent yourself, depending on the applicable law, or you may be obliged to hire an agent.

How much does it cost to obtain industrial design protection?

Since the fees for filing for protection vary by country, it is recommended to contact your national (regional) IP office for further information on the pricing structure. If you seek protection overseas, you should consider the translation charges as well as the costs of engaging a local agency in addition to the regular filing fees.

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