Protect your design.
Protect your design.
Track copycats.
Track copycats.

Design protection

In the face of increased competition more and more companies are paying attention to the outward appearance of their products. Particularly in the case of consumer products, more attention is being paid to design details in order to stand out from competitors.

A unique and distinctive design increases market value and ensures brand recognition. External design and packaging distinguish a product from those of other companies, thus creating a competitive edge.

Outward appearance has a proven influence on purchasing decisions. This is apparent in mobile phones, homewares, stationery and, indeed, across all product -ranges. It’s impossible to underestimate the business impact and sales potential of a well-designed product.

A prerequisite for a competitive edge, however, is that the creative design ideas are legally protected. Otherwise, there is a threat of generally permitted imitation by competitors.

What can be protected as design?

The design protects the two- or three-dimensional external appearance of a product or part of a product. In principle, all handcrafted and industrially manufactured products are open to design protection.

What cannot be protected as design?

If the design is exclusively for technical reasons, i.e. if it is absolutely necessary as a result of technical requirements or in order to achieve technical effects, it is not eligible for design protection. In such case, you should contemplate patent or utility model protection.

What are the prerequisites for a design?

On the filing date, the design must be new and have a so-called individual character. The overall impression of the design must differ from the overall impression of other designs that were already known before the filing date.

However, the design does not require absolute novelty like the patent. If, for example, you have already presented your design at a trade fair, you have exactly 12 months from the day of publication. Within this period, the so-called grace period, you can still register the design. If someone else has filed an identical or very similar design within these 12 months, this will prevent the registration of your design.

How and where does the application take place?

First, an application for registration of the design is filed with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (GPTO). You can combine several thematically related designs in one multiple design application.

Alternatively, you may apply to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for a so-called Community design, which ensures uniform protection of your design for all countries of the European Union.

Also, an international design registration on the basis of The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs is possible.

Which way of filing is most advantageous for you? Just call us and we will be glad to discuss the best way to achieve a successfully registered design.

Which documents have to be filed?

The design protection is based exclusively on the images submitted to the respective registration office. We recommend submitting several views of the product. The respective offices have different requirements for the images, for example with regard to resolution and image size. However, you do not have to deal with these regulations. That’s what we do for you!

What will happen with my application?

A design is an unexamined protective right. Once the application has been received, the respective office will examine the formal prerequisites. Should all requirements be fulfilled, the design will be published in the respective design register. Subsequently, we will forward the registration certificate of your design.

For how long can a design be protected?

Design protection is possible for 25 years at the most. To this end, every 5 years renewal fees are due. We will of course remind you in good time!

How much does a design application cost?

Please click here to see the costs of a domestic or foreign design application.

More information:

Design Act


Property rights at a glance

European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)

What can be registered as a European design?