All things man-made, whether large or small, were designed by somebody. A design registration protects the appearance of a product and its special features, ornamentation, shape or pattern. A design registration does not cover the technique or method of use behind an invention. However, it is both less expensive and easier to obtain than patent protection. A design registration may be used in isolation, but if you combine the two forms of protection, one might say that you have hedged your bets in terms protection.
Before you start applying for design protection, you need to decide on the countries in which you want to obtain protection. When you make this decision, you should consider carefully where you plan to market your product, where it is manufactured and, potentially, in what countries your competitors are marketing their products. For example, you may apply for design protection in the whole of the EU, obtaining what is referred to as a registered Community design. Design applications may also be filed in individual countries or through an international application system managed by WIPO, allowing you to obtain protection in up to 93 countries.
What can you protect with a design registration?
In order for a product to obtain design registration, it must be new and have an individual character. It must also possess certain specific design features.
Designs may be:
- Industrially manufactured products, such as electronic products, decorative art products, packaging
- Crafted products, such as clothing, jewellery, watches, spectacles, furniture
- Graphical symbols, apps, fonts
Parts of products and products which can be taken apart and assembled may also be eligible for design protection. On the other hand, you cannot obtain design protection for products that only have a technical function, that is products where the designer had no say in the presentation or appearance of the design.
How to apply for design registration
An application to register a design must include images of the product, preferably from all angles, in the form of photos, drawings or 3D renderings. These must be displayed against a neutral background and must not illustrate anything other than the product.
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.
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.
The design registration runs for five years at a time and is subject to renewal. You may renew the registration four times, for a maximum design registration validity period of 25 years. After that, the registration will lapse.
The actual fee is between DKK 1,000 and 5,000, depending on the number of countries covered by the application. Our consulting fee is fixed, please contact us to get a quote.
Our best advice is to leave the application to an expert who knows the ins and outs of the regulatory procedures, content requirements, language, timings, etc.
How can we help you?
You will get a thoroughly prepared design application, drafted by experts who do this for a living. This increases your chances of being granted protection of the intellectual property right applied for. Having perfected our specialist skills over many years, we know what a design application should contain. Our patent attorneys and attorneys-at-law have deep insight into the relevant legal issues pertaining to intellectual property law and know what it takes to ensure that an acquired right can stand the test of objection or even litigation. This insight is important already in the application phase.