Author: Violeta Sutkiene, Associated Partner, Head of Trademark and Design Division at METIDA
Today’s market is fulfilled with numerous goods and thus renewing a product design should sound attractive. If buyers find a product to be appealing and new, they are likely to buy and try it to satisfy their curiosity. Hence, the new product design increases the sales, creates value add and brings commercial benefit.
Design registration is the only mean to get the exclusive rights to the renewed product design and enables its protection in cases of copying or unfair use. If the design that is being registered becomes available to the public due to its designer or rights transferee’s actions, ensuring the protection of the design on time by filing a design application becomes particularly important (no later than 12 months).
Unfortunately, not everyone hastens to seek the exclusive rights following registration procedures in Lithuania, Europe or globally. Design registration can protect the whole product or only its parts, ornaments and other special properties. When registering, decorative and aesthetic elements of the design should be separated from its technical functions, as the product properties influenced only by the technical functions cannot be registered as the design. Therefore, checking whether the key elements of the design impose novelty and give rise to the individual design properties is essential. The design is regarded to have the individual properties when an informed user believes that the earlier and later designs evoke different impressions.
According to the current statistics, the number of Community and international designs is increasing. In 2014 10% of the registered CTM designs (overall number was 30 000) were watches, 9% – packages, 8% – cars and their parts. Furniture designs also comprised 8% of all the CTMs.
Nowadays we often face with the most unlikely design registrations:
- Computer icons (Reg. No. 181482)
- Clothes drying racks (Reg. No. 1424782)
- Jewellery (Reg. No.1425045)
- Car interior (Reg. No. 246814)
The registered design is a personal property and a tangible asset. It also forms the ground to seek protection in cases of infringement. Design owners can benefit from licensing others to use their registered designs and produce goods. Licensing the registered design is useful for many other reasons too. For example, owners can benefit from larger licensee’s production capacities, larger outlet and better understanding of the local market.