Design registrations cover the visual appearance of a product. A registered design application may be directed to the three-dimensional shape of a product such as furniture or a two-dimensional pattern applied to the surface of a product such as wallpaper and as such can be used to protect a broad range of articles.
In New Zealand and Australia the design must be novel which means that the application must be filed before the design is used or shown to other people. As design registrations cover the visual appearance of a product the design has to appeal to the eye and the design must not be purely functional or relate to a method or principle of construction.
Unregistered designs may be covered by copyright however there are a number of benefits of applying for a registered design namely that it is easier to prove ownership, you do not need to prove that an infringer has copied your design, and you can use your registration to prevent parallel importation.
In Australia it is important to note that copyright is lost for three dimensional products which are produced industrially. Therefore it is crucial to register a design in Australia if you have created a three dimensional design for industrial purposes.
A registered design in New Zealand can last up to 15 years if the renewal fees which are due at 5 and 10 years after filing are paid. The full term for design registration in Australia is 10 years if the renewal fee which is due at 5 years after filing is paid.
If you would like any more information regarding registered designs or would like to file a design application then please just let us know.