Building a design portfolio
A registered design protects the appearance of a product, and can never protect a technical function. Examples of things that can be protected by a design include the appearance of a product, ornaments, graphic icons and fonts.
Search for prior designs
An initial investigation is normally performed with the purpose of determining whether the new design is possible to register in itself and whether it is new and sufficiently unique. Purely technical functions of a design are not possible to protect by design registration. It is the visual appearance that is in focus, not the functionality.
Noréns can help in assessing:
- If the design can be protected as registered design or if a patent is a better option,
- If a trademark (logo) can be protected as graphic design, in parallel with a trademark registration.
- If it is relevant to take into consideration different alternatives concerning the materials in the product, in order to get a strong and sustainable protection.
- If there are any similar designs already made available to the relevant public.
Novelty and individual character
A registered design must be new. This means that it must have been new at the date of filing the application. There can be no identical design shown or published anywhere in the world, regardless of product category. The design must also be different from earlier know designs. The design must have an individual character which means that the overall impression it produces differs from the overall impression produced by any design which has been made available to the public. Design protection can be obtained also for a part of a product, for example the cap of bottle.
Design protection vs. patent protection
Design protection and patents can advantageously be used together. Applying for a design registration instead of a patent may be appropriate if the product fails to meet the requirements for patent protection, for example, if the design is a new visual appearance of a known product. It is also possible to apply for design protection as a supplement to patent protection. Since a patent only protects the technical functionality and not the appearance, and since the opposite applies to design protection, it is possible to obtain broad protection for the product and its appearance in this manner.
Typically, a design registration can be obtained much faster than the corresponding patent protection. In Europe the design only undergoes a formal review and a verification that the correct fees have been paid. When these conditions are met, the design is registered.
Noréns can assist in answering questions regarding how design protection and patents may best complement each other.
Normally design protection is obtained by registration but there are exceptions.
Applications to register a design are filed at patent or trademark offices. Similar to patents, the design rights are national or regional rights that exist in each respective country or region.
Noréns has long experience in managing design applications and we are updated on current legislation and practice.
Images and drawings
The quality of the images or drawings are crucial to getting an optimal scope of design protection.
Noréns can give advice concerning which images are needed for a certain situation. Alternatively, we can help produce necessary images or drawings.
Expanding the portfolio
Since the novelty requirement provides certain limitations regarding which amendments can be made to existing design protection it is difficult to determine at which point in time design protection should be made. Must it be done now? Can it wait?
Noréns can help setting the right priorities and synchronize with applications for trademark or patent protection.