INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS FOR LOCAL CLIENTS
While patents protect innovative structures and processes, the visual aspects of manufactured products are protected by Designs. In Canada, we call them Industrial Designs, in the US, Design Patents, and in Europe, Community Designs.
An industrial design registration application includes formal line drawings as well as a description of the design setting out the features of the design relating to the shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation of the article of manufacture. A design application is subject to examination to determine if it is new and distinctive. Examination is automatic. To be new, the design must not have been published, publicly used or shown more than one year before filing (6 months for the US).
A registered design in Canada is in effect for 5 years from the date of registration (typically 9 to 20 months from filing), and may be renewed once for an additional 5 years. A US design patent lasts 14 years from the date of grant. A Community Design lasts for 5-year blocks renewable up to 25 years.
In simplified terms, the scope of a Design is limited to articles whose visual aspects resemble the Design more than the state of the art at the time of filing the Design. In some circumstances, Design protection is very valuable, but for functional articles, patent protection is normally of greater value.