Design protection is the legal term for protection for innovative designs. Design protection protects appearance and shape, but not a product’s function or the underlying idea. With design protection, no one else can manufacture, sell or import copies of the protected design. The Swedish Intellectual Property Office (PRV) is the competent authority for design protection in Sweden. Design protection applies for a period of five years after you have submitted your application and can be extended up to a maximum of 25 years.
Any design can be protected through design protection. In order for it to be possible for a product to be covered by design protection, it must be:
- Novel. This means that the design must differ from all previously published designs; it is for example not sufficient to simply change the colour of an existing design. The designer has a couple of years to register their design protection after publication.
- The design must be distinctive. This means that it cannot be so simple that it is considered to be a shape that everyone might use, such as a circle or triangle.
Designs can also not be protected if they contain someone else’s trademark, protected company names, portraits, family names, artists’ names or a copyright-protected work without permission. They can also not contain a national coat of arms or national flag, nor can they breach “good practice”.
Design protection is an intangible asset; the design can be sold or licensed out. It can also make it easier to find investors and business partners, as they can then be confident that your company owns the exclusive rights to the design.
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