Industrial design law relates to the protection of the appearance of objects or articles made in quantities of more than fifty and which are based on designs which are addressed to the shape, pattern or ornamentation of the objects or articles. Certain designs of two or three dimensional shapes, patterns or ornamentation are not protected under copyright law if more than fifty copies of an article bearing such design are made. Some, but not all, of those designs may be protected under industrial design law.
Unlike copyright, but similar to patents and integrated circuit topographies, the industrial design system requires registration in each country in order to create enforceable rights. Industrial design registration is available to protect aesthetic features of an article or product. Industrial design law is intended to provide protection for features of shape, configuration or ornament applied to an article or product.
The rights in a registered design give the owner a degree of control over subsequent use or dealings with a design or articles embodying that design. Failure to file an application within one year of any public use, disclosure or sale of the design or a product or process bearing the design may result in loss of rights.
The owner of the registered design has the sole right to import for the purpose of trade or business, sell or rent an article incorporating the design or any substantial part of thereof. These rights include the exclusive right to offer or expose for sale the article to which the design has been applied. Further, the owner of the rights in a registered design can also exercise those rights in relations to a kit which one can use to assemble the article.
The registration of a design does not extend to any method or principle of construction that may be embodied in a design or an article. Similarly, a registered design doe snot extend to any useful features embodied in a design or an article. The rights in a registered industrial design are separate and apart from the rights in the article to which the design is applied.
An article is defined to mean a product
that is intended to perform a useful function. A useful function is one
which serves a function other than merely serving as the substance or
carrier for artistic or literary matter. Industrial designs are original
configurations, shapes, patterns or ornamentation which are applied to a
useful article of manufacture and which appeal to the eye.