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- Ensure the design is kept secret/unpublished until registered.