A registered design relates to and protects the outward appearance of an object as opposed to a patent, which relates to and protects a concept. The protection afforded by a registered design can be extremely valuable. There are two types of registered designs in South Africa: Functional Designs and Aesthetic Designs.
A functional design protects the appearance of an object insofar as such appearance is dictated by the function the object is to perform. A functional design could also have aesthetic features protectable as an aesthetic design.
Term of a functional design: 10 years
An aesthetic design protects the aesthetic appearance of an object as judged by the eye, or the “eye appeal” of an object. A design can have both aesthetic and functional features.
Term of an aesthetic design: 15 years
Protection afforded by a registered design: A registered design grants the owner thereof the exclusive right to use an object identical to or not substantially different from the registered design.
Foreign registered design applications: Corresponding applications in other jurisdictions must be filed within 6 months of filing a South African registered design application. There are international agreements which make it possible to file a single design application that covers a numbers of countries. As an Example, an European Community Design provide protection in all the European Union countries.