A unique and distinctive design plays an important part in the appearance and value of a product and with more and more businesses realising this they are taking steps to register the design and protect their rights.
Businesses have the option between registering their designs either nationally or internationally. For example, in the UK businesses have the Intellectual Property Office with which they can register their designs for protection within the UK. On the other hand, businesses that wish to protect their designs outside the UK can use international bodies to assist with their design registration. For example, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market which provides protection within all 27 member states in the European Union.
There are two main ways in which to obtain protection for a design:
Registered Design Right – this right gives the owner protection for the outward appearance of a product or part of it. This route also provides certainty that the design is registered to the registered owner if infringement occurs. A registered design protects a design registration for a period of 25 years.
Unregistered Design Right – this confers a right to prevent copying. The only downside to this is that if infringement occurs it is far more difficult to prove who the owner of the design is. An unregistered design protects a design for a period of 3 years.
If businesses chose not to register their designs they may be exposed to copying and counterfeiting which can jeopardise the success of their product.