Knowledge

Design Protection

What is design protection, and why is it important?

Max Steinhausen

What is a “design”?

The term “design” relates to the overall appearance of a product. Elements that define the design of a product include the shape, configuration, pattern and ornamentation. The design of a product is a key aspect that can determine its commercial success. Examples of designs that can be protected are sunglasses, shoes and designer furniture.

Why is design protection important?

Design registration prohibits competitors from copying the appearance of your product, giving you the exclusive right to commercialise it. It is important to note though, that to successfully protect your design, it must be new and distinctive. The design registration process can be difficult to navigate, and various formalities must be met in order to successfully register the design. For example, the so-called representations should show the design from different angles and should not show any matter that does not form part of the design.

Designs can have high commercial values

As an example, the tech giants Apple and Samsung were in a series of legal battles from 2011 to 2018, with Samsung being accused of both design and patent infringements on Apple’s iPhone and iPad design. Specifically, in 2012, Samsung was suspected of infringing the various design elements of Apple’s iPhone. In addition, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was compared to Apple’s iPad.

The jury decided that Samsung had copied Apple in the early days of smartphones and awarded Apple over USD $1 billion in damages as a result of Samsung’s infringement. This was subsequently reduced to USD $539 million following a further 6 years of legal battles.

What should I do if I have a new design I want to protect?

The design of a product can be one of the key features of its success. The safeguarding of such an integral part of your enterprise means your design needs to be registered.

We are experts in protecting industrial designs on a global scale. From novelty searches and assessments, product design registration, to invalidity proceedings across multiple jurisdictions. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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