Nature of Registered Designs
Many products of industrial and other designers which by their nature may be unsuitable for patent protection, can be effectively protected by design registration.
Whereas a patent is primarily intended to cover the conceptual features of invention underlying potentially a range of embodiments, a design registration covers the form and outer appearance of an article. In certain cases, it is advisable to have parallel design and patent protection for an article.
Design registration is particularly suitable for articles which are not new in their underlying concept, but which have been re-designed to give them a more striking or pleasing appearance or to make them more fit for the function they perform.
An aesthetic design registered in part A of the register will protect features of pattern, shape, configuration and ornamentation of a design insofar as they appeal to and are judged by the eye. A single design can be registered in both part A and part F of the register, for example if the functional and aesthetic aspects of design are integrated in the same features of shape, pattern or configuration.
An aesthetic design registration lasts for 15 years, subject to payment of annual renewal fees after the third year.
A functional design registration in part F of the register will protect features of pattern, shape or configuration of a design insofar as they are necessitated by the function which the design is to perform. Integrated circuit topography and mask works can also be protected under part F.
A functional design registration lasts for 10 years, subject to payment of renewal fees annually after the third year.
An application for registration must be lodged within six months of the design having been made available to the public in South Africa or in any country. An aesthetic design must also be original, and a functional design not commonplace in the art in question.
The applicant for design registration must be either the author of the design or a person or company who has obtained the right to apply for registration from the author.
The registration confers a monopoly for making, importing, using or disposing of any article incorporating the design, or a design not substantially different.