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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore tō tātou waka e ū ki uta

Intellectual property key terms: Registered designs

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.

Although most registered designs will also be copyright (which is free and arises automatically), registered design protection is stronger.

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.

Developed for the Technology Online site from a study by Susan Corbett, Louise Starkey and Ann Bondy, Victoria University of Wellington

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