protects: aesthetic styling
e.g.: design of a product or its components
also: logos, forms, software interfaces, etc.
is: a prohibitive right, protects against reproduction, in particular
prerequisites: novelty (12-month grace period) and uniqueness
required: representation of the design to be protected
official process: registration by the competent office, no examination process
where: in individual countries or across countries (EU and international designs)
length of protection: maximum 25 years (in Germany and Europe)
The possibility of legally protecting the design of your own products or product details is (far too) often neglected. Design can nonetheless be a powerful IP right that helps prevent competitors from copying decisive visible product features. Designs are also not in the least limited to consumer goods: details of machines can also be protected in many cases – taking into consideration the exclusion criteria. We advise you on how to avoid the pitfalls that would lead to an overly narrow and thus less effective scope of protection.
Another feature in this area is the “unregistered design”. Three years after publication of a (not officially registered) design, protection from identical forgeries applies.
A search for older design rights should be carried out before new product designs are presented to the market. An infringement suit can otherwise be filed, usually involving disclosure, injunction and damage claims. Competitors' design registrations should therefore be examined at regular intervals. This has the additional benefit of possibly revealing the design elements of a competitor's future products well before their market launch.