March 16, 2018 | Moira McKenzie

A registered design is a form of legal protection that will protect the design of a functional item. A design refers to the visual ornamental characteristics in the appearance of an item.

The subject matter of a registered design may relate to the configuration or shape of an item, the surface ornamentation applied to an item; or a combination of each. A registered design does not protect the structural or utilitarian features of an item.

Design registration aims to protect designs that have an industrial or commercial use. A registered design gives you, the owner, the exclusive right to commercially use, licence or sell it.

Before deciding whether to apply for a registered design you should do the following:

  • Search widely online to avoid infringing someone else’s intellectual property;
  • Ensure you own the design (consider whether it has been produced by contractors or employees);
  • Consider whether you should obtain intellectual property insurance;
  • Educate your staff on their obligations to maintain the confidentiality of the design until registered and where necessary have them sign confidentiality agreements; and
  • Ensure the design is kept secret/unpublished until registered.