IP Management:

IP Guide for SMEs

IP Guide for Small- and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Some Common Features of Procedures for the Protection of Industrial Designs

By World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)




Industrial designs are compositions of lines or colors or any three-dimensional forms which give a special appearance to a product or handicraft. They protect the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a useful article, which usually appeals to the sense of sight or touch and can be reproduced in significant quantities (for a more detailed explanation see Hague Agreement)

In most countries, protection of industrial designs can only be acquired through registration. In a number of these countries, no search is made and no examination as to substance is carried out prior to registration of the industrial design. Some countries provide for a search and examination in the event that the industrial design application has been published and a third party has objected to its registration by giving notice of opposition. In very few countries, protection may also be available for unregistered industrial designs.

As a general rule, to qualify for protection through registration, the design must be “new” or “original.” The duration of protection differs from country to country. While the usual term of protection is 15 years (an initial period of five years with the possibility of renewal for two further periods of five years each), some countries provide protection for only 10 years, while others allow even 25. Renewal of protection is usually subject to the payment of a renewal fee. However, unlike marks, protection of industrial designs, once granted, is not subject to cancellation if they are not actively used