What is a registered design?
A registered design is a legal right that protects the way an article looks, but not the way it works.
A registered design protects visual features of an article or a non-physical product, like:
- Colour (only if combined with one of the above or if it gives rise to a pattern)
By obtaining a registered design, you can stop unauthorised copying or reproduction of any two or three-dimensional manufactured item or non-physical product.
Some examples of products that can be protected by registered designs include packaging, ornamental products like jewellery and clothing, furniture, or graphical user interface (GUI) features.
Registered designs also protect some items made in two dimensions, such as wallpaper, textiles and labels.
To qualify for legal protection, your design must be:
- New and original
- Appealing to the eye
- Not functional.
Keep your design a secret
The design registration system in Singapore operates on a first-to-file basis. In other words, the first person to file an application, will have priority over others for the same design.
Your 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.
You should be careful not to show, sell or advertise your design to a third party or to the public before applying for registration of your design. If someone has seen your design before you file an application, your design may not qualify for legal protection because the design is no longer considered new and original.
If you need a third party to assess or help with the design, ensure that they sign a confidentiality agreement before you show them your design.
If you make any significant changes to your design after filing the registered design application, you may need to file other design applications to protect those new features. In that case, it is just as important to keep the changes secret until you have file the other design applications.
Check that your design is new and original
File a Registered Design Application
To apply for registered design application in Singapore, you need to pay a fee and file the following documents at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS):
- Representation of your design for a particular article (usually, perspective, plan and elevational 3D drawings) clearly showing the appearance of the design features that you want to protect;
- Classification and article/non-physical product name; and
- A ‘Statement of Novelty’ specifying the new features of your design.
How does the registration process work?
After you file a design application, IPOS examines your application and within a few weeks to make sure it meets the formalities requirements.
If IPOS raises any formalities objections, IPOS will issue an objection and the Applicant will have a few months to reply.
Once the objections have been overcome, and the application is acceptable, IPOS registers your design and issues a Certificate of Registration. Your design will then be advertised in the IPOS Designs Journal and your design drawings will be made publicly available on the IPOS design database.
How long does your registered design last?
In Singapore, your registered design last 15 years from the date you filed the application – so long as you pay the renewal fees. Your design will be protected for 5 years from the date of filing the application.
After the initial 5-year protection, you may choose to extend the protection for the design for an additional 5 years.
What if I want to protect my designs overseas?
Your Singapore registered design is only effective in Singapore.
Protection for designs are territorial in nature. This means that you will need to file individually in each country you wish to obtain design protection in.
Each country has different systems and requirements for registered designs.
We will advise you further about the registration process and help you file your design applications in other countries.
You can delay the filing of design application in other countries, by up to 6 months after filing your registered design application in Singapore. This means that your foreign design applications will inherit the date of filing of the Singapore registered design application.
How do I stop others from using my registered design?
As the owner of a registered design, you have the exclusive right, in the country where the design is registered, to make, import, use and sell that article having that design.
If you own a registered design, you should enforce your rights. You can mark your product or product literature with details of your design registration. Marking is sometimes enough to deter potential copiers. Sometimes a warning letter to an infringer of your design is enough to make them discontinue the infringement.