What is an Industrial Design?
Industrial Designs protect the aesthetic value or visual appearance of a product or special ornamentation or design which may be applied to a product.
Examples of items which you would protect by way of industrial design registration are board game designs or layouts, containers (Coca Cola bottle), or consumer products such as video cameras. In Canada, the initial period of protection is five years and can be renewed for an additional five years.
Why do I need one?
If you have a product which has a particularly unique visual appearance, and you wish to have exclusive rights to that visual appearance or design, you need industrial design protection.You can arrange for an application to be prepared and filed on your behalf in whichever country you intend to sell your product.
If you are successful in your application to protect your design, you are awarded the exclusive right to manufacture and sell that product for specific periods of time (these vary depending on the country).
What's the difference between an industrial design, a design patent and a utility patent?
Industrial Designs are referred to in the United States as "design patents", while the term "utility patent" is used in the United States where Canadians use the term "patent." Whenever you see the term "patenting the design," especially in American literature, this is a reference to protecting the outward or external appearance of a product.
How well does industrial design protection work?
Industrial design protection is not terribly strong due to the nature of industrial design. What you are attempting to protect in your industrial design registration is the outward appearance of your product, but not the method of operation, the function which your product performs, or the benefit derived from it. It is only the appearance which is being protected and nothing else.
If someone else were to design a product that performed a similar function, but which looked quite different from yours, there would be little you could do to prevent the similar product from being sold.
Are drawings or images of my registered industrial design protected as well?
If you plan to use a two dimensional rendering or drawing of your product (such as packaging or other advertising or promotion material), we recommend that you apply to register that two dimensional rendering as a trademark under the Canadian or United States Trade Mark Acts, rather than under the Industrial Design Act.
This is a way of protecting the way your product appears when the appearance of your product is used in marketing, as opposed to protecting the actual shape itself of the product.
Does an industrial design registration last as long as a trademark?
In Canada, a trademark is registered for an initial period of fifteen years and may be renewed again and again, as long as you are making active use of it. With an industrial design, the maximum period of protection in Canada is ten years: an initial five year period, plus an additional five year term when renewed. No further renewals of industrial design are possible beyond this ten year period, whereas perpetual renewals are possible with trademarks.
Should I patent my invention instead?
If the shape or appearance of your product influence its method of operation or function, then we usually recommend that a patent be pursued. Wherever you have the option of protecting your product with a patent or by industrial design, we always recommend a patent, as protection under a patent registration is stronger than an industrial design registration.