Journal Article

Design protection for technical products

Martin Schlötelburg

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 1, issue 10, pages 675-678
Published in print September 2006 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online August 2006 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jpl119
Design protection for technical products

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Legal context. The shape and the function of a product are often closely related (‘form follows function’) which opens the way for double protection of novel features by a patent and a design. The simultaneous application for both rights can be done in a fast and cost efficient way by using the figures of the patent application for the design registration.

Key points. With this in mind, the design registration may not cover the novel features in its broadest terms, since design law does not apply to ideas, concepts, or methods. However, the design provides protection for a concrete embodiment and thereby offers some relief for a patent applicant in need of immediate action against copying. Although, certain conditions have to be observed where simultaneous protection is sought, there is no doubt that a patent covering an invention in its general form and a registered design protecting a specific embodiment of the invention may coexist with no mutual negative effect to their respective validity.

Practical significance. Having an enforceable protection right for an embodiment of an invention at hand a long time before the corresponding patent is granted is a valuable asset in an IP portfolio. The additional costs incurred by a design registration are insignificant in comparison with the costs for the patent.

Journal Article.  2206 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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