An Industrial Design relates to the aesthetic appearance or overall visual appearance of an object or objects. A Registered Design is an Intellectual Property right that protects the way the object, or a part of the object, looks.
The protectable part of the appearance may result from a combination of elements. For example, the shape or shapes of different parts of the object, the textures of the materials used, and their colours.
If you have a unique or distinctive-looking product, then you can protect this by filing a Design application. Applying to register your Design can help to protect your product by preventing your competitors from copying the unique look of your product, giving you a commercial advantage and helping your product to stand out in the market.
The first step towards gaining a registered Design is to file a Design Application. From the moment your Design Application is filed, your distinctive product is provided with a measure of protection, and you can use this against your competitors or other parties to help prevent unauthorised copying.
Ideally, the subject matter of your Design will be kept secret until an application is filed, in order to maximise the protection provided to you by the application. However, 'grace periods' for filing of up to a year are available. To be valid, your Design must be new (not already publicly known outside an applicable grace period), and must have 'individual character' (the appearance of the Design, or the overall impression that it makes, must be different from the appearance of what is already known.)
Design rights are a territorial right, and can only be enforced in the territority in which they have been granted (i.e. the country or group of countries to which they apply - a UK filing will only protect your Design in the UK, a US filing in the US, a European application in Europe, etc.) However, filing an initial application provides a 'line in the sand', and this initial application can be used as a foundation for overseas applications, as long as these are filed within certain time limits. This provides you with the opportunity to test the commercial applicability of your Design in different markets before making the financial commitment to filing in many different territories. A Design can be renewed for up to 20-25 years (this varies from country to country).
Your Design Application is a legal document, and must meet a number of requirements to be valid, and for you to gain the full benefits. For example, the figures submitted as part of the Design Application must show certain views and certain details. These figures could also exclude certain details in order to prevent the Design application from being overly limiting. For these reasons, it is highly recommended that you use a professional to prepare and file your application. If you would like more information, or if you wish to discuss how I can assist you in preparing and filing your application, please contact me.