Have you ever designed an innovative product design and would like to protect it against imitation by competitors? The solution could be the application for a registered design at the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).
Registered designs are probably the least well known among intellectual property rights, but they can be a cost-effective way for effective IP rights – if protection is limited to appearance. Because a registered design protects the physical appearance of a product, shaped by features such as form, configuration, pattern or decoration.
However, the registered design is also limited to the physical appearance. The functionality cannot be protected as a registered design – this is only possible with a patent application. Characteristics of the appearance of a product which are “exclusively determined by the technical function” are excluded from design protection.
It is not only a matter of weighing between a design application and a patent application, but also between a design application and a trademark application. Especially with 2- or 3-dimensional designs this question should be well and strategically thought through.
What can be protected?
A registered design protects the appearance of a piece or a whole product. Thereby it makes no difference whether it concerns a toy, a graphic or a reamer. A two dimensional object are for example fabrics or wallpapers which can be protected against imitators as well.
Further basic requirements for all registered designs are the novelty (no identical published design) and the uniqueness (general impression differs from other designs).
Good Reasons for a Registration of a Design
The following reasons which militate for a design registration convince very fast:
- Your product design (for instance a formation and coloration of a certain product) contributes significantly to the success of your company and your trademark, but suddenly the design is registered by a foreign person. Hence it is advisable to register your design precocious, since then you have more validity in front of the law.
- By means of the registration of your design in the databank of the DPMA, you own the exclusive right to sue the design. Accordingly you are allowed to prohibit third parties to use your design for the production, the sale and for the import or export.
How to register my design?
In Germany an application for the protection of your design can be made postal or comfortably from home. In written form you can hand in your application at the DPMA. You can also file it personally at the offices in Munich, Jena or Berlin.
The DPMA also provides the official application form costless on the internet. The intuitive and self-explaining handling prevents often made mistakes by requesting the necessary data by the use of a display mask. After the receipt of the electronical application, you immediately obtain an essential file reference.
The following information and documents are necessary for an application of your design:
- Information concerning yourself
- A reproduction of your submitted design which is appropriate for the publication. An appropriate reproduction would be for example the attachment of several pictures on a CD or a DVD.
- A product to which your design has been incorporated and/or has been used
In addition to that the following should be regarded:
The DPMA does not examine the novelty and the uniqueness of your design. You have to check for yourself by researching the exiting formal repertoire and the stock of registered design. The DPMA offers the admission to the official publications and register database which is costless and can be used by everyone.
Our advice: Due to the enormous importance of the design research for the application procedure, we advise you to count on the experiences and the knowledge of a legally trained patent attorney and to discuss all accruing questions with him.
How much does a registration cost?
The application of your design at the DPMA is chargeable. The following costs have to be calculated for the design application:
- Individually notification: 70€, for an electronical application 60€
- Multiple application: (up to 100 designs at a stroke): each design 7€, but at least 70€.
For an electronical application each design costs 6€, but at least 60€.
The application fee has to be paid within three months starting the day of the registration. Your design is protected as from the day of the registration in the design register of the DPMA.
- 6. – 10. year of protection: 90€
- 11. – 15. year of protection: 120€
- 16. – 20. year of protection: 150€
- 21. – 25. year of protection: 180€
The period of protection for your registered design amounts maximally 25 years as from the day of the application. Each time after five years you have to pay a maintenance fee. If you do not pay the fee in time, your registration will be deleted from the register. Therefore you definitely should memorize those deadlines.
Please note: The stated costs only refer to the fee which is directly paid to the DPMA! If you consult an attorney which helps you for example with a professional design research or the elaboration of the application documents, you have to include the lawyer?s fees in your expense budgeting.
The lesson is clear
In terms of the application procedure and the preconditions for protection the registered design is an easily attained protection right and offers an effective protection. At each new product development you should consider and take advantage of the comprehensive protection. Furthermore we would like to give you some additional hints which you should consider:
- When submitting respectively reproducing your design it is especially important that your pictures respectively your drawings define the object which shall be protected precisely and that important characteristics like hatchings, lines and shadows are illustrated explicity. Your protection right is based on exactly those illustrations which you have handed in.
- An electronical application is not only related to less costs but also facilitates the GPTO to register your design faster. If you like to save time and money, it is advisable to register your design online. What?s also important: you shouldn?t refrain from a previous consultation by a specialized attorney anyway.
- If you want to protect your design not only on a federal level, but also in Europe, you have to appeal to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) directly. An overview of the costs which have to be calculated, can be understood from the fact sheet of the GPTO.