Industrial Designs FAQ
Everything you really need to know about iGERENT's Services
In terms of intellectual property, industrial design is considered as the appearance or ornamental aspects of the totality or a specific part of a product that makes it new and sets it apart from other potentially similar products in the market. The technical or functional features of the product are not taken into consideration at the time of obtaining protection for an industrial design.
Industrial designs apply to a wide variety of handicraft or industrially made products: from packages to furnishing and household goods, from lighting equipment to jewelry, and from electronic devices to textiles. Industrial designs may also protect fonts or graphic symbols. Individual parts of a product which can be disassembled may also take advantage of industrial design protection.
The owner of a registered industrial design is entitled to prevent third parties from manufacturing, selling or importing items that display or incorporate its design or a copy of it when such acts are carried out for commercial purposes.
To obtain design protection it is necessary to file an application, including the relevant documentation and graphic representation of the design, before the corresponding institution.
In certain countries, industrial designs fall under the protection of patent law and are known as "design patents." Depending on the local law and the type of design, industrial designs may also be protected as creative works and get coverage under copyright law.
The Locarno Classification is an International Classification for industrial designs, currently used in 54 countries. Additionally, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the Benelux Intellectual Property Office (BOIP), the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) also use this Classification for the registration of industrial designs.
It consists of 32 classes and 219 subclasses with explanatory notes and an alphabetical list of products. Although its use is voluntary, it allows the filing of design applications referring to a single classification system, which facilitates searches for industrial designs and saves considerable work when documents are exchanged between IP offices.
Industrial designs, unlike trademarks, cannot be renewed indefinitely and have a set lifespan. Generally speaking, they are granted for an initial period of 5 years, which can be renewed for successive periods of five years up to a total of 25 years in countries with the longest duration.
Industrial designs protect the specific appearance of a product, whereas patents do not protect aesthetics and focus exclusively on protecting the way that a technical problem is solved.