Design intellectual property is creations of the mind. This includes designs, symbols, inventions, artistic and literary works, and names and images that may be used in commerce. Intellectual property is protected by the law through copyright, patents, and trademarks. These allow people to get a financial benefit or earn recognition for the products they create. By finding the correct balance between the greater public interest and the interests of innovators, the system creates an environment which innovation and creativity can thrive. Intellectual property is a topic that's very important for creative professionals.

Industrial Design

An industrial design constitutes the aesthetic or ornamental part of an article in a legal sense. There may be three-dimensional features, including an article's shape, or two-dimensional features, such as lines or patterns. The owner of an industrial design that is registered or has a design patent has the legal right to stop third parties from selling, importing, or making articles that copy their design. Industrial designs include a large variety of handicraft and industry items. These include containers, household goods, jewelry, textiles, and electronic devices.

These designs can also be relevant for graphical user interfaces, logos, and graphic symbols. Most countries require every industrial design to be registered so they will have the protection of the industrial design law. The laws in some countries allow limited protection to designs that are not registered, known as unregistered industrial designs. Some industrial designs may also have protection under copyright law such as works of art. This design is one of the main factors that draw consumers to products and persuades them to buy one over the other.

Registering and Searching Industrial Design

The Hague System is in charge of international registration for industrial designs. They allow the owner of a design the chance to have protection in a few countries by submitting an application that's in one language. There will only be one set of fees in a single currency. The Global Design database allows for multiple searches across every international industrial design that's registered through one interface. They can also search in national collections that participate. The first step when performing industrial design searches is the Hague Express database. This is updated weekly and has information on past and current designs.

What Are Design Rights?

A design patent protects original, new, and non-obvious ornamental design for a manufactured article. The patent does not protect the functional or structural features, only the appearance of it. As an example, the outside design of a bicycle helmet or athletic shoe can be protected. The design patent will stay valid for 14 years from the original date it was granted, and there will be no interim maintenance fees. Designers have a complex time when it comes to intellectual and copyright property. When one concept is expressed in different formats and mediums, it is harder for creators to control their ownership.

Even a small concept, like having ownership, gets complicated if the work is ideas. A registered design makes sure the visual appearance of the item is protected and gives the creator the right to legally stop a party who's unauthorized from using or producing the design. If the look of the product or the technical function happens naturally from the result of the action it performs, it may not be suitable to have a design right. For a registered design to be valid, it must have the following characteristics:

  • Have no identical or similar designs registered
  • Have an appearance that's different than any other ones that exist
  • Already be registered in an approved overseas jurisdiction

A design isn't able to be registered if it is offensive, doesn't have a unique character, or is mainly dictated by the function of the product. The protection given to an unregistered design's owner isn't the same as a registered design. Certain considerations should be taken when making the choice to register the design with reference to the Unregistered Designs Ordinance of 2005.

Public service information can be provided by the Intellectual Property Office when it comes to unregistered designs, but it's smart to get professional legal advice for interpretation of the legislation.

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