Design is sometimes the key for the success of a product as it makes it more attractive to the consumer. For this reason, the protection of designs should be a crucial element of the strategy of many business owners.
Design relates to the appearance of a whole product or part thereof. In particular it relates to the characteristics of the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornament.
Product means any industrial or handicraft item, including parts intended to be assembled into a complex product, packaging, graphic symbols and typographic typefaces, but excluding computer programs. Complex products are products formed from multiple components which can be replaced, permitting disassembly and a reassembly of the product.
Registered designs and models are protected for five years after the date of filing. This period may be extended to up to 25 years, on condition that renewal fees are paid on time and that, during this period, any invalidity or revocation request are received.
The appearance of the whole product or part thereof which are, in particular, the characteristics of the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its ornamentation, provided that it is new and has individual character may be registered as a design.
A design is considered new if no identical design (or irrelevant changes) was disclosed prior to the filing date.
A design possesses individual character if the overall impression conveyed to an informed user differs from that conveyed by any other previous designs.
The protection of the industrial design is territorial, which means that it is valid only in the country or region in which it occurred. Therefore who wants to protect his own designs and models shall require their registration in each of the States where they have been marked.
There are three ways to obtain the registration abroad:
- through a number of national registrations: in this case it will be necessary submit a registration application to the competent department of the State. This procedure is complex and it can be expansive since it involves each time the use of different national language and the payment of different national fees;
- through a regional registration: for the Member States of the European Union may be submitted a single application to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM);
- through an international registration: a company based in Italy, State member of the Hague Agreement, can submit the registration procedure at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The design will be protected in each member countries (over 50). Hague Agreement provides for a cheap and simple procedure, managed by WIPO.