Industrial Designs

Industrial design – what is it?

Nowadays, consumers making their choices upon purchasing goods pay a lot of attention to their look, in particular if these goods are of the same kind.

Manufacturers, who are fully aware that an attractive look adds value to the product, enhances its attractiveness and draws consumers’ attention, are racing one another in inventing the newer, the more innovative and creative product designs.

Considering that the process of creating such a design involves a lot of effort, work and financial spending, it is advisable to remember about protecting the outcome of such creative activity. The tool that comes in handy is an industrial design.

Let us start from the very beginning by explaining what an industrial design is and what requirements must be fulfilled so that it can provide effective protection.

An industrial design shall be understood as the look of the whole or part of a product. When referring to the look which may be subject to protection as an industrial design, a set of characteristic features in meant, including among others the following features:

– lines

– contours

– shapes

– form

– structure or material

– colors

– ornamentation

or any other features, which altogether compose the form of a product.

For example, the following can be industrial designs:

  • a two-dimensional figure consisting of e.g. lines, contours and colors, such as any graphic designs:


Registered Community Design

no.  008050116-0002

Registered Community Design

no.  008017206-0002

Registered Community Design

no.  007826961-0001

Registered Community Design

no.  007733092-0001


  • a three-dimensional spatial figure consisting of e.g. lines, shape, colors, ornamentation:


Registered Community Design

no.  007799176-0005

Registered Community Design

no.  004669059-0003

Registered Community Design

no.  004046118-0001

Registered Community Design

no.  008158117-0004


What is essential to note, the features of the look of a product resulting exclusively from the technical function, which is to be performed by such product, are exempt from protection.

If the notion of an industrial design was expressed in such a general way, that would mean in practice that by its registration one could get protection for everything. Any look, in any combination of the above mentioned features.

Upon reviewing the databases of registered industrial designs, where the following examples of designs can be found:

Registered Community Design

no.  004662815-0001

Registered Community Design

no.  002623934-0003

Registered Community Design

no.  005230257-0001

Registered Community Design



one could have an impression that in fact it is so.

However, in order that an industrial design may really guarantee effective protection, two more requirements are yet to be fulfilled:

Namely, an industrial design must be: novel and must have individual character.


Novel, so namely what?

Novel shall be such design which has never been made available to the public anywhere in the world.

Making a design available to the public can be for example:

– publication on a website,

– publication in social media,

– publication in a magazine,

– presentation in a catalogue or advertising leaflet,

– display at an exhibition,

– demonstration at a seminar, conference, lecture,

– introduction on the market and offering to sale.


In practice, any such act of making a design available to the public results in losing the feature of novelty by it and its inability to obtain effective protection.

The issue of novelty and making a design available to the public, as well as the related exceptions, will be commented in more detail in my further articles.

It is also essential to determine what is meant by individual character that an industrial design must have.

This means in practice that the look of a product must differ from what has already been known on the market to the extent that it evokes a different overall impression upon the users of the relevant products.

When assessing whether an industrial design has individual character, one also takes into consideration the freedom of creativity, which the designer had at his disposal upon creating the look of a product.

The look of any product fulfilling the above mentioned requirements may obtain protection, which shall allow to combat copying or counterfeiting the design by competitors, as registration of an industrial design gives its holder the exclusive right to use it for commercial pr professional purposes, including among others the right to prohibit other parties form manufacturing, using, offering, putting on the market, import or export of products made in accordance with the registered design.

Are you still thinking whether the look of your product is eligible for protection as an industrial design? You are very much welcome to get in touch with us, or in the meantime follow our IP Blog, as further articles in this series will be coming shortly.

About Joanna Piłka

Joanna Piłka is a patent attorney in the department of trademarks and industrial designs. She deals with issues related to the protection of trademarks, industrial designs and internet domains. Also develops a strategy and provides advice on brand protection and industrial designs, prepares legal opinions. She is a member of INTA and ECTA (member of the Design Committee of ECTA). Contact with the author

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