What is a registered Design?

A registered Design is the registration of the visual (external) appearance of an object. Registration is done through the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand.

What is protected by registration?

Registration protects the external appearance of an object from being copied or used for commercial gain by another party.

The visual appearance of an object includes elements like the shape, configuration, pattern or ornament of the object. The aim of design registration is to protect the elements of the object which appeal to the eye.

It is important to note that registration does not protect the way a design works, or the method used to create it. It only protects the external appearance of the object. If you want to protect the way your design works, then you will need to apply for a patent.

What kinds of objects might a design registration protect?

Design registration protects the external appearance of objects like jewellery, ornaments, clothing, and furniture. Further examples include objects like plates and cups, shoes, and components of machinery such as vacuum cleaners and dishwashers.

What rights arise from registration?

Design registration gives the owner the exclusive rights to:

·         Make, import for sale, or use their design for the purposes of any trade or business;

·         Sell or hire the design, or offer the design for sale or hire.

Won’t my design already be protected by copyright law?

There is an overlap between copyright law and design law. Even if you do not register your design, it may still be protected as an original artistic work.

However, there are some distinct benefits from registering your design. An example is the instance in which you create the design for a necklace, which you intend to reproduce and sell for commercial gain.

If a competitor copies and reproduces that necklace, then if you bring a claim in copyright law you will first have to prove that you are the copyright owner of that original artistic work (i.e., the necklace), and then prove that the infringer has copied and reproduced that work.

If you have registered the necklace as a design, then you have already proved ownership and only need to prove that the competitor’s necklace has substantively the same appearance as your registered design.

What are the requirements for a design registration?

In order for your design to be registrable, it must be new or original. You must also show that the object is more than solely functional (i.e. that it is appealing to the eye).

For these reasons, it is best to hold off putting your design on the market until you have registered your design with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand. If you release your design into the market prior to registration, it may be harder to prove that it is new or original.

How long does a design registration last?

A design registration can last a total of 15 years. The initial registration lasts for 5 years, and you may renew for the following 5 years on the 5th and 10th anniversaries of the date at which you registered your design. Note that a design registered in New Zealand is only protected in New Zealand.

What if alter my design?

You may make minor corrections or alterations to your design. In this instance, you must submit a Design Change Request. This is done using an IPONZ account.

If your changes are significant or introduce new features then you may need to file a new application.


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