Whenever a new product is being devised, consider design registration because design is so important to a product's mass appeal. Just think of the i-pod or Dyson vacuum cleaner.
The definition of "design" is very broad, and includes packaging, fashion garments, handicraft, a sculpture, products such as chairs, or a pattern (e.g. tartan) or images applied to the surface of products like textiles or wallpaper. Even graphic symbols on a computer screen and typefaces may be registered as designs provided the design is registered within a year
Design registration is a cost effective way of protecting a core design, which helps strengthen the brand.
What designs are capable of being registered
It may be that your invention is not patentable, but would nevertheless get good protection against copying through design registration. Sometimes, you may need both a patent and a design registration to protect your intellectual property rights.
Design registration is available for designs that are novel, and have individual character. So, it is important to apply for design registration when the design is first created (within 12 months, but ideally, even before it is made public). Otherwise, the right to register the design is lost forever.
The creator of the design is entitled to register it, except where the creator is your employee, or where you commission the design from a freelancer or design company, in which case you are regarded as the first owner of the rights in the design, and may register them.
When new products are devised, it may sometimes be desirable to search to see whether there are similar designs or patents already registered. The search is useful in letting you know whether you are infringing someone else's rights, and also in helping to establish whether your design is original enough to register.
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