What is design protection?

A patent makes it possible for you to protect innovations that solve a technical problem. However, the main focus of your innovation may not be on the technology, but on the appearance of the product. You can also effectively protect your investment in the design of the product by means of a so-called design registration. A design registration gives you exclusive rights to the design and therefore makes it possible for you to take action against any copycats.

The most important criterion for a design registration is the 'individual nature' of the design. Evidence for this has to be provided by a set of images that form the basis for the design registration. In Europe every application that meets the minimum formal requirements is granted automatically and quickly. In a country like the United States an actual substantive examination needs to take place, which is why it is referred to as a Design Patent over there.

The advantages of design protection

  1. Design registration makes it possible for you to take steps against fake products that use your distinctive design.
  2. It is up to you to decide what geographical coverage you want. Are you going to opt for protection throughout Europe with a Community design or also in the United States and China, for example?
  3. A design registration is valid for a period of five years and can subsequently be renewed for a period of five years at a time, generally up to a maximum period of 25 years.
  4. Compared with applying for a patent the costs are relatively low.
  5. You can still register the design in the EU up to 12 months after publication. However, we recommend that you register your design prior to publication.

This is what EP&C can do for you

Effectively protecting your design by means of a design registration is a specialist job, especially if the innovation also contains a technical aspect you are best to leave this to our design specialists. In order to be able to arrive at a solid design protection, there needs to be a proper understanding of the technology involved and the role it plays in the design. That is the only way to determine which set of drawings and/or photos can best be used to protect a design.

When laying down a design it is important to think carefully about the way this is done, just like it is when drawing up the claims of a patent. What can and cannot be seen in the images is ultimately going to be crucial for your rights. You claim these by setting out the details in a design registration. It is also possible explicitly not to claim, or disclaim, by leaving out details or crossing them out. This can subsequently be combined with a multiple design registration to ensure that you get the best possible scope of protection.

Different countries also impose different requirements on the design application. Our people will consult with you to decide which ones are most appropriate for your business aims.

Do not be tempted to file such a design registration yourself, for example with the EUIPO, in order to obtain a Community design. It may look like a cheap and easy option, but it is impossible to correct it once it is has been set up incorrectly.

Costs of European design registration

The budget for a single design registration in the 27 countries of the European Union amounts to € 1,370. For multiple design registrations an additional € 670,- is added for each extra design. The budget required for design registration protection in other countries very much depends on the countries you choose and the strategy followed in order to obtain that protection.