A protected design is an industrial property right for the appearance of a product, e.g. for an industrial design. Design protection may be obtained by the registration of a design or, in certain cases, even by starting the use thereof.
A registered design is an unexamined industrial property right with a maximum duration of 25 years. Design protection can be attained for industrial designs and models by registration thereof into the Design Registry, in so far as these represent products with new specific characteristics. Said products have to be the result of a creative activity, have to be new and have to have an individual character. Typical applications of design protection are, for example, the protection of textile fabric patterns or other two-dimensional patterns, or the three-dimensional design of objects such as dishes, cutlery, furniture, lamps or other objects of industrial design.
A design protection application effective for Germany can be filed on a national basis at the German Patent and Trademark Office, or as a European Community Design effective in the entire European Union. A joint design protection can for several countries also be obtained by means of an international deposit of a design.
A special feature relates to the unregistered design protection according to EU Law, which already starts when a new design with individual character is made accessible to the public within the EU for the first time. Said unregistered design protection is limited to three years.