Styling and design have an increasingly important role during the creation process. It is clear that the design of a product can have its own place on the market (or with packaging on the shelf). This is not only the case for 3-dimensional objects such as a car, toilet bowls and coffee packs but it also applies to two-dimensional designs such as logos, design sticker sheets, wallpapers or diagrams.
With a design registration, the visual characteristics of products / packaging etc. are protected. Many companies rely on copyright (which occurs naturally and automatically) to provide sufficient coverage. In a conflict, however, the other party will contest the existence of copyright. A design registration is therefore a perfect alternative to proof the existence of certain rights. In case of a conflict the court will assume the legal validity of a design registration. This also has a greater deterring effect on possible copy cats (at relatively low cost).
Not every design may be registered. Legally, it is necessary that the design is new and has an individual character. In many countries complete novelty is necessary. Simply put, the new product / new design may not have been shown anywhere in the world. So register your design first before the design is displayed. In Europe (and a few other countries), it is possible, even after the first disclosure to file an application. In most countries, within one year after the first publication / disclosure the design should be registered. The duration of design protection in the UK (and Europe) is 5 years and can often be extended to end 25 years. To check whether a product is new, most designers do advance searches online. A design search provides additional information on similar designs registered elsewhere.
The individual character of a design is another aspect, and can best be described as the designer adding something unique / creative to the product. Through this unique element the new product takes its own place between all existing products. It does not apply to the functional aspects (how the shape of a product may be useful useful), but especially to the unique aesthetic aspects which give the product its own face.
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