The value and benefits of a registered design

By Marc Münzer, European Patent and Design Attorney, and Ruxandra Olteanu, Design Consultant


Protecting the visual design of your products can have a large impact on your bottom line. While functionality and quality are important to consumers, so is the design of a product, which can have a large influence on consumers in their purchase decisions.

Product developers and manufacturers understand this well: good design translates into a positive user experience, which in turn translates into increased sales, and increased brand loyalty. It is for this reason that considerable time and financial resources are often used in order to fine-tune the design of a product.

However, a good design attracts not only the attention of customers, but also the attention of competitors and, worse yet, counterfeiters. The economic losses attributed to counterfeiting are immense. According to a most recent Global Brand Counterfeiting Report, the losses associated with counterfeiting globally will have surpassed 1.5 Trillion USD in 2020.

For the company developing and selling the original product, counterfeiters and competitors imitating their design pose several threats: loss of distinctiveness; loss of competitive advantage; lower ROI; risk of having their products associated with the low quality of counterfeited products; etc.. For young companies, these threats can force them completely out of the market.

A registered design, properly used, can shield you from these threats. By registering your design, you receive an IP right that allows you to protect your product not only against identical copies, but also against products that give the same overall visual impression. You can also choose to register only certain features of your product, which means that competitors can be prevented from incorporating selected design features into their products.

Registered design rights also provide numerous potentially low cost enforcement possibilities. By submitting registered designs to large online platforms such as Amazon, E-Bay, Alibaba, etc., infringing products can be taken down with low costs. One of our clients recently took down over 1500 infringing offerings from major web platforms in the course of just a few months, via their registered design. Registered designs can also be submitted to Customs Authorities, which can then use them to stop counterfeited products from entering selected markets.

Despite the value provided by a registered design, registering one is not that costly, and in some countries the registration process is also very fast. For example, an EU design can be registered in less than a week. Furthermore, in many countries, it is possible to register a design right, even after the design has already been published.

The ease with which a design can be registered does however mean that it should be done with care. The drawings/photos you submit will be the only point of reference used when examining an infringement case. It is therefore important to make sure that the drawings are accurate and show all features you want protected. Since the laws in each country are different, drawings acceptable in one country might provide a different protection than expected in another country. In some countries, filing unclear or incomplete drawings might mean that you won’t be granted protection, or that the protection obtained will not be suitable for your needs.

A faulty application and/or faulty drawings can:

  • increase the overall costs associated with the registration process;
  • prolong the registration process;
  • end the registration process with a refusal;
  • cause the obtained right to be worthless for the actual product

It is for that reason that we at Guardian IP Consulting have established expert knowledge of the various national Design Laws, allowing us, together with our large network of international partners, to provide our clients with the best registration strategy for both local and international projects. Our purpose is to help our clients identify what brings them most value, and then help them protect it. Furthermore, due to our extensive expertise with patent rights, we can provide a complete view of your product, providing an evaluation where we consider both design and patent rights to provide an optimal protection strategy for you.

Want to know more about designs, or find out how much registering your design(s) might cost? Then please contact us.