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Industrial Designs

Another form of intellectual property right, in addition to patents, copyrights and trademarks, are industrial designs. Essentially, an industrial design is any pattern or ornamentation or features of shape or appearance that are applied to an article. In other words, industrial design registrations can be obtained for the style of furniture, or of cookware or any other industrial article in which the shape of the article is important. I have filed industrial design applications for clients for light fixtures, clips, industrial machine components, toys such as dolls and stuffed animals, fittings of various types, souvenir items, and sports-related items.

Making an Application

To secure an industrial design registration requires first that an application be filed with the Industrial Designs Office, which is part of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in Ottawa. Industrial design applications include a short description, and drawings which depict the design for which protection is sought.

Under the Industrial Designs Act, applications for industrial designs must be made within one year of public disclosure of the design. Therefore, it is important to ensure that a record is kept of first public disclosure, in order that an application can be filed in time.

The application process takes between six and twelve months on average, depending upon whether any objections are raised by the Examiner. In order to qualify for registration, the industrial design must be both original, and nonfunctional. Functional features are not protectable by way of industrial design registration.

An industrial design registration lasts for ten years, although a renewal fee is due after five years.

What Are Industrial Design Registrations For?

Industrial design registrations are an important complement to patent protection. The best designs, and the most commercially attractive products, are ones in which functionality and form merge. The functional aspects of articles can be protected by way of patents. The appearance aspect of articles can be protected by way of design. The industrial design registration gives to its owner the exclusive right to apply the design to an industrially manufactured article. Therefore, an industrial design will prevent an exact copy cat from being made and sold during the life of the registration.

How Do I Enforce a Registration?

If an industrial design registration is infringed, it is necessary to bring an action in the Courts to try to get an injunction to stop the infringer and to collect damages for the infringement of the owner's rights. Thus, an industrial design registration is an important way to preserve the distinctive look and appearance of commercial articles.

James Nenniger is a founding partner of the firm of Piasetzki Nenniger Kvas LLP, Barristers & Solicitors, Patent and Trademark Agents, a firm that restricts its practice to patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs and related causes. Piasetzki Nenniger Kvas LLP is located in Toronto, Canada.