Protecting Product Designs
Whilst the function, operation, manufacture or construction of a product may be protected by a patent, its outward appearance may be protectable by design protection. This protection may be either a registered design requiring an application to the Intellectual Property Office or an unregistered design right which arises automatically without registration but gives a weaker protection.
Other protection is available to artistic works (through copyright ) and semi-conductor chip topography.
A potential registered design must be original and hence details of the design should be kept confidential prior to application for registration.
The below pages outline how aspects of a product's design may determine the extent of the protection, and how to deal with suspected infringers.