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Article · 07.06.2021

Design - Q&A

A design protection can be very valuable. According to the EUIPO (European Intellectual Property Office), several studies show that SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) which have design protection have higher income per employee than SMEs which have not registered their designs. Their income can be up to 17 per cent higher.

What does a design protection cover?

A design registration covers only the appearance of a product. An assessment is made regarding special features of the ornamentation, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product. Design protection does not cover any technical features or method of an invention. Only appearance. However, design protection is both less expensive and easier to obtain than patent protection. If you combine the two forms of protection, one might say that you have hedged your bets in terms protection.

Design protection is also a highly effective tool to combat counterfeiters. In many cases, design protection will deter others from infringing your product, and should infringement nevertheless occur, a design registration gives you a strong hand in the event of a lawsuit.

The musical sensory cushion inmu is an example of a product which has obtained a design registration, a patent and a trademark registration.

How do you obtain a design registration?

Design protection may be obtained if the product has a new and distinctive design that makes it substantially dissimilar to any existing products – no matter whether the products involved are flowerpots, loudspeakers, spectacles or cars. The right is obtained by filing an application with the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) in Denmark or with the local authority in another country in which you seek protection. It is also possible to file an apply with the European authority, EUIPO, or the international authority, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). For international applications, the applicant needs to specify which countries the protection is to cover.

How long does it take to obtain a design registration?

The processing time for a design application is generally significantly shorter than for a patent application, and in some cases you may even be granted a registration certificate after only a few weeks.

For how long is a design registration valid?

A design registration runs for five years at a time. A renewal fee is payable once every five years, which covers the next five years. However, the registration can only be renewed four times, making the maximum design registration validity period 25 years. After that, the registration will lapse.

How do you set up design monitoring?

Our design monitoring service of registered designs is similar to trademark monitoring and is based on the databases in which Danish and foreign design authorities register rights, and the results will be sent to you once a month or at the intervals you request – regardless of whether you have selected monitoring of your own or a competitor’s design registrations.

We may also monitor designs using search engines such as Google to spot unregistered designs. In this way, you will know if a design is registered and/or exists which may disturb the market for your company’s product or if a competitor registers a new design. Thus, our design monitoring service allows you to monitor the competition and stay up to date on market developments.

How do you file a design application?

Patrade has specialists who advise on all aspects of intellectual property (IP), and our consultants have long-standing experience in the area of design. We help to assess your product and prepare an application. The application must include pictures of your design from different angles, and we help you select the right pictures, as they will provide the foundation of the protection. Last, but not least, we will be in contact with the authorities and any counterparties.

How much does it cost to register a design?

The actual fee is between DKK 1,000 and 5,000, depending on the number of countries covered by the application. Our consulting fee varies depending on how complex the matter is, but our extensive experience typically enables us to handle cases quickly. You are very welcome to contact us to talk about your situation and to get a quote.

What do you do if you discover that your design has been copied?

It is important to act quickly against infringement to prevent the counterfeit product from being made available to customers. You could try to contact the infringer yourself, but in our experience, the effect will be much greater if you let us take over the case. As attorneys, we are able to enforce your rights more forcefully, and in a number of cases, we have closed the matter almost immediately after our customers had unsuccessfully attempted to do so.  

More often than not, we are able to enforce your rights relatively easily, but should the matter end up with a lawsuit, our attorneys are also well prepared to handle that. They have extensive experience with such lawsuits, which is a core aspect of their expertise.

If you have further questions regarding design and design protection, please contact one of our experts who will be happy to provide a quick assessment of your specific situation. 

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