Why protect your design

If you have created a new design, it is a good idea to try to protect the design by getting it registered nationally, internationally or through an EU design. A design protects a product's appearance or parts thereof determined by the specific features of the product or its ornamentation. Products that can be protected by the Danish Designs Act can be machines, packaging, furniture, clothing, tools, screen images on a computer, icons, fonts and the like.

There are four different ways to protect your design:

  • A national design registration, e.g. a design registration in Denmark
    • The application for a design registration must be filed with the national design authority and will then be processed according to national rules. You should be aware of the fact that the registration only applies to the country in which you file the application.
  • A registered community design
    • With the community design you can obtain a design registration by filing one application that covers all of the EU. The community design is handled by OHIM You can read more about OHIM here.
  • An unregistered community design
    • With the unregistered community design, the protection applies from the day you publicise the design in the EU. The protection is in force in all of the EU for three years. You can read more about the unregistered community design here.
  • An international design
    • Through the Geneva Convention you will have the option of obtaining protection for your design in several countries, both inside and outside the EU. This can be done with one application, which must be filed with WIPO, who handle the international design. You can see a list of the countries that have acceded to the Geneva Convention, and thus which countries you can seek protection in on the basis of the one and same application.

When you have received a design registration, you can use it to prevent others from using an identical or similar design. A design registration is thus a way to render your documented exclusive right visible to competitors. That is why it is a good idea for you to secure the right to your design, before it is sent out into the market, so that you can prevent other people from copying it.

A design registration is valid for a period of 5 years from the filing date of the application and can be renewed for a further four periods of 5 years against payment of a fee for a duration of 25 years of protection in total.

The unregistered design
Even if you do not register your design, it will be protected in the EU for 3 years through the unregistered community design. The period of protection starts from the day on which you have publicised the design inside the EU. As the owner of an unregistered design, you are protected against competitors' very close imitation of your design. For some industries this protection is sufficient, e.g. in the fashion industry in which designs are frequently replaced.

However, once the three year period of protection has expired, it is not possible to extend the period of protection. After this point it is no longer possible to get a registration to extend the protection. You have 1 year from the date of publication to decide if the design is to be registered, i.e. within the grace period, or if the design only needs to be protected by the unregistered community design for three years.

Read more about the grace period here.