This is why you should register your designs

Registered design protection is an easy and straightforward way to avoid copycats and make financial returns on your ideas. Read about the three best reasons for you to get started right away.

Succeeding in the design industry is hard work, and breakthroughs into the awareness of the general public don’t grow on trees. For this very reason, it is not uncommon for players in the design industry to get heavily inspired by popular designs developed by small business owners.

Often, small design companies spend a lot of time focusing on operations and the creative aspect of the business, leaving the design protection aspect largely unattended. But overlooking design protection could turn out to be an expensive oversight. Not registering a design makes it easy for copycats to get away with copying it, producing it in China and selling the copies for cheap. And this practice often affects cutting-edge entrepreneurs that create innovative products, says Ida Rømer Johannesen, European Trademark and Design Attorney at Plougmann Vingtoft.

“Your earnings disappear if others can produce the same as you while selling it cheaper. And if you choose to go to court, it easily costs hundreds and thousands of kroners before the court makes a decision as to whether the design was copied or not,” she says and continues:

“If you haven’t registered your design, you will likely only win in court if you can provide solid evidence that the copy is a slavish imitation and that the copying was a deliberate act. Registered design protection therefore gives you broader protection while it is also significantly cheaper than trying to defend your design in court.

Registered design protection prevents copycats

The main goal of registering a design is to prevent competitors from copying your product design and to ensure that your company is entitled to remuneration and damages if someone copies it anyway. But there are also other benefits to registered design protection. For example, holding the rights to a design gives you the upper hand when negotiating licensing or sales agreements for your design.

Ida Rømer Johannesen has advised several designers on design protection. And she is repeatedly met with great surprise, when she explains how easy it actually is to achieve registered design protection.

“As a rule of thumb, I would say that you should make a design registration once you settle on a design that you think looks great and is innovative, just because it is so easy, cheap and quick,” says Ida Rømer Johannesen.

In the following, she gives three good reasons as to why every designer should start registering their designs.

1. A future-proof solution with a built-in quantity discount

It costs approximately EUR 350 in official fees to register your design in all 27 EU member states, after which the protection is valid for five years. But protecting your designs becomes even cheaper, if you opt for a long-term strategy.

If you want to protect more than one design in the same application, doing so only costs an additional EUR 175 in official fees per design in addition to the first design. If you wish to protect more than 10 designs through the same application, the price drops to EUR 80 per design from the 11th design and onwards.  

Get a full overview of the European Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO) official design registration fees on EUIPO’s website.

”It’s definitely a benefit to think a few years ahead from the beginning. In that way, you’re able to co-register multiple designs, but you also make sure that your ideas are protected in the relevant markets,” says Ida Rømer Johannesen.

If you wish to protect your designs outside the EU, you must make a decision no later than one year after publishing your design. In some countries, the deadline is even six months. That is why it may be a good idea to think a few years ahead, when you register your designs. There is no requirement that you must sell the product in a chosen country to achieve registered design protection.

2. Easy application process

Applying for registered design protection requires information about the owner of the design as well as pictures or line drawings of the design. However, your design must differ significantly from existing products. Therefore, it is a good idea to look in the available databases to see how your design differs from other designs.

”Once you’ve settled on the design that you want to protect, my recommendation is to use line drawings in the application. In that way, you can avoid settling on colors and surface materials in the application – if these elements are not important to your design,” says Ida Rømer Johannesen.

If you collaborate with Plougmann Vingtoft on your application, all you need to do is to submit pictures of your design 1-2 weeks before the application is due. A working drawing is then drafted after which the application is put together and sent off.

3. Quick response

Once you have submitted your application for registered design protection, it is only a matter of a few weeks – and in some cases even a mere question of days – before you design is registered.

“Often, it is mainly a matter of formalities when a design registration needs to be approved. The most important thing is that your product is easily identifiable from the submitted photos,” says Ida Rømer Johannesen.

Once the registration has been approved, you receive a registration certificate, which you can forward to potential business partners or infringers when you want to prove that your design is registered and protected. In this way, you have both strengthened the value of your design and ensured that no one can get away with copying it.

Do you want to know more about how to protect your designs? Read our mini guide to design protection or contact one of our experts. You can also get a hold of us by filling out this contact form.