Design Patent Law

Whereas utility patents protect the technical aspect of a creation, design patents protect its ornamental element. Design patents cover the aesthetic appearance of industrial and handicraft items. They are also referred to by terms such as "industrial designs and models".

The subject matter of the protection afforded by design patents has a certain affinity to copyright law. However, given its industrial relevance, design patent law forms part of industrial property protection.

The protection afforded by design patents covers two-dimensional designs and three-dimensional models of an item. The design of an item must be such that it creates an impact on the viewer's sense of shape and colour.

To uphold his rights against third parties the author of a design is advised to apply for registration of the design or model with the German Patent and Trademark Office or with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trademarks and Design). After application for registration of the design and its entry in the Design Register, the proprietor enjoys protection against any reproduction of the design.

Other essential requirements for the granting of protection are that the design or model should be new, unique and industrially utilizable. Protection extends to any unauthorized reproduction of the registered design or model. It lasts for five years and can be renewed for up to 25 years.