A design refers to the features of a shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process. If you register a design, you will be protecting the external appearance of the article. Registered Designs are used primarily to protect designs for industrial use. It is the right given by the Government to the owner to control the use of your design.
When you apply for registration of designs in Singapore, you are required to classify the article or articles to which the design is applied. Classification is done in accordance with the Third Schedule of the Registered Designs Rules R1, which lists the headings of the 32 classes and their subclasses as presented in the 8th edition of the Locarno Classification for Industrial Designs.
To qualify for registration, a design must, in general, satisfy two key criteria:
The Design must be new: The registered design must not have been registered in Singapore or elsewhere; or published anywhere in the world before the date of application of the first filing. Thus the owner of a design should be careful not to disclose the design to anyone, until a design application is filed.
If a design is the same as another that is registered in respect of the same or any other article, it is not new. Generally, a design is not new if it
• has been registered; or
• has been published anywhere in the world, in respect of the same or any other article; or
• differs only in immaterial details, or features, from other designs that are commonly found in trade.
The Design must be industrially applied onto an article: The registered design has to be applied to an article by an industrial process i.e. more than 50 copies of the article have been or are intended to be produced for sale or hire.
Designs that cannot be registered
Under the Registered Designs Act and Rules, the following cannot be registered:
• Designs that are contrary to public order or morality.
• Computer programmes or layout designs of integrated circuits.
• Designs applied to certain articles; such as works of sculpture (other than casts used or intended for use as models or patterns to be multiplied by any industrial process); wall plaques, medals and medallions; and printed matter primarily of a literary or artistic character (including book jackets, calendars, certificates, coupons, dress-making patterns, greeting cards, labels, leaflets, maps, plans, playing cards, postcards, stamps, trade advertisements, trade forms and cards, transfers and similar articles).
• Methods or principles of construction.
• Designs that are solely functional.
• Designs that are dependent upon the appearance of another article, of which it is intended by the designer to form an integral part; or enable the article to be connected to, or placed in, around or against, another article so that either article may perform its function.
The benefits of registering a design
By registering a design, you obtain a right to ownership and the right to prevent others from using the design without your permission. You can exploit your design in many ways. You may use it to better protect your market share by barring copying by others, license it to third parties for commercial returns or sell the design for a sum of money.
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