Intellectual property key terms: Registered designs
The external appearance of some products can be protected by registering a design right at Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). A design right protects a new or original shape, pattern, or decorative finish that has been applied to the product by an industrial process.
Length of a registered design
The registered design will be granted for five years, and it can be renewed regularly up to a maximum term of 15 years. After fifteen year, the registration expires.
The kind of protection is similar to a patent. The holder of the registered design does not have to prove that the design was copied, only that the same design has been used commercially without permission.
Registered design versus copyright
Many New Zealand manufacturers rely upon the protection for industrial designs available under the Copyright Act, so they do not apply for registered design protection.
However, overseas copyright laws do not generally protect industrial designs. Thus, someone planning to export their articles should apply for registered design protection in each country.
Case in point – A lavatory unit
Registered designs have been obtained in New Zealand for a lavatory unit, comprising a seat head, and back flap connected by a moulded hinge, computer screen icons, and light fittings.