How to protect a design?

A design can be protected under different intellectual property rights and these rights may overlap and be invoked simultaneously. Under Belgian copyrightlegislation, design will often be protected through copyright in so far as the design is an original work.

Under design law, there is also a system at European level for the protection of an unregistered design.

The above protection options carry no registration obligation and are consequently very cheap on the face of it. However, bear in mind that problems of proof often arise as the right holders themselves must prove that they are a designer or author or – especially in the case of companies – that they have acquired the rights from the designer or author. They must also demonstrate that the design meets the protection requirements.

In itself, a registration already offers a solution to that problem of proof. You will obtain an enforceable title and it is up to any counterparty to prove that your right has not been validly acquired. In many situations this is by no means obvious, so a registration will undoubtedly give you a head start. In addition, there are the following advantages:

  • a protection period of 5 years, which is extendable up to max. 25 years

  • the scope of protection goes much further than mere imitation

  • a European registration offers you protection in the 28 Member States of the European Union Your rights may be enforced through a single court which may give a judgement for the whole European territory

  • a registration is a greater guarantee for your distributors

  • a registration can easily be valued as an intangible fixed asset and can be sold as such

brantsandpatents can guide you in taking a decision whether or not to register a design and can also take care of the necessary formalities.

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