Registered designs are used for the legal protection of product designs with regard to their aesthetic appearance and provide a monopoly lasting up to 25 years for products having the same overall aesthetic impression as the protected design.
A requirement for acquiring (legally valid) registered design protection is that, at the filing date, the relevant design is both new and also has a certain individual character compared to the previously known designs in the relevant area of goods. Own publications before the filing date are subject to a so-called novelty grace period of one year, i.e. relevant publications in this period are not taken into consideration when examining the requirements for protection.
Registered design protection is requested by filing an appropriate registered design application at the relevant offices (e.g. German Patent and Trademark Office, European Intellectual Property Office, World Intellectual Property Organisation) or are obtained within a certain scope even with no action (in the form of a so-called “unregistered Community design” with three-year protection against imitators following the first publication of a “registrable” design within the territory of the European Union subject to specific requirements).
Both the protectability of a specific design and also the scope of protection of a registered design are determined with reference to the entirety of the designs in the relevant field already known at the time of filing.