Industrial Design Intellectual Property – The design of a product plays a critical role in determining a customer’s buying decisions. Also, most customers will look at a product’s design to tell one product from another.
So if you are in the product development industry, your product designs are some of your most valued assets. The best way of safeguarding your designs is registering them as IPs under applicable laws based on country.
This guide focuses on everything you need to know about industrial design as intellectual property.
Industrial Design Intellectual Property
What Is an Industrial Design
Industrial design is the visual appearance of an item and can include things like its shape, aesthetics, patterns, lines, color, or a combination of these elements.
Industrial designs are registrable as IP under IP laws and apply to a wide range of products, from technical and medical equipment, architectural designs, vehicle parts, electrical fixtures, housewares, jewelry, etc.
For a design to qualify for protection in most jurisdictions, it must be original. While there is no requirement that the product in question must be new, its visual appearance must be unique. Also, it must not have been disclosed before the filing date or substantially similar to another design.
Scope of Protections
Industrial rights are obtained after registering your designs with the relevant authority. In Canada, this authority is the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, while for the US, it is the United States Patents and Trademark Office. Other countries have different governmental entities tasked with IP registration as stipulated in their IP laws.
After registration, industrial design rights remain enforceable for a limited time that differs with jurisdiction. In Canada, industrial design protections are enforceable for 15 years from the date of filing for registration.
In the US, protections last for 15 years from the date the protections were granted. It is important to note that the rights holder must pay maintenance fees to the registering entity to keep the rights enforceable. Failure to pay the fees will have the protections expiring before their due date.
Industrial design protections are limited to geographical boundaries. For example, a design registered in the US or Canada may not enjoy protections in Mexico. To get similar protections in Mexico, you will need to register your design in Mexico.
Most designers apply for global protections through global IP registration entities such as WIPO, which allows for protections in states that are signatories to the pact.
Benefits of Registering Your Industrial Rights
IP laws protect creators and innovators from exploitation and allow them to profit from their efforts. If you are still unsure about the value of industrial design registration, the benefits highlighted below can help clear that up for you.
Registering your designs for protection offers you exclusive rights to your designs when your rights are enforceable. Having exclusive rights to your design means no other person or entity can profit from your designs without your express consent. This allows you to control prices to get a return on investment.
You also get the legal right to stop others from infringing on your designs. An infringement occurs when another entity reproduces your designs or creates another product that closely resembles your design without your consent. Infringement can significantly impact your business revenue, so the quicker you can stop it, the better.
Enforcing Your Industrial Design Rights
After registering your design rights, you retain the responsibility of policing your rights. This means you will need to keep an eye open for infringement. The government only comes in after you make it aware of an infringement.
The best approach to policing your industrial design rights and other types of IP rights is paying an IP agency to do it on your behalf. Also, always ensure that you have an IP expert working with you in the registration process and when pursuing an infringer.