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A design is a new or original feature of shape, configuration or pattern. Registering your design will provide you with several benefits. This includes the exclusive right to make, use, sell and import the product of your design in New Zealand. This article will explain how you can register your design with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). It will also outline some of the benefits of design registration.

What Is A Design?

A design is the new or original features of:

  • shape;
  • configuration;
  • pattern; or
  • ornament applied to an article by any industrial process or means.

A registered design is a proprietary right in such a design and protects the product or article’s visual appearance.

A design may be two dimensions or three dimensions. To be eligible for registration, a design must meet the requirement of having new or original features of:

  • shape;
  • configuration;
  • pattern; or
  • ornament.

A product that has a purely functional purpose cannot receive registration.

Why Is Design Registration Important?

A design registration will protect your product or article’s external appearance, such as the shape of a new chair or drink bottle, a new pattern or ornamentation. As the owner of a New Zealand registered design, you will have the right to prevent others from using, making or selling that design in New Zealand.

If your design is copied, you can advise the other party that you have a registered design and request that they stop the action infringing your proprietary rights. We recommend that you seek legal advice and assistance before taking action in relation to a design infringement.

In New Zealand, you can only obtain a registered design for a new design. That is, your design must be novel in order to achieve registration. Therefore, your design must not be published, and there must be no sale or use of the product or article, which is the subject of your design before a design application is filed.

This is different from design laws in other countries, such as the European Union and the United States. Here, there is a limited grace period in which the IPONZ will not take a design applicant’s activities during that grace period into account to determine whether the design is new or not.

Copyright

In New Zealand, copyright may automatically exist in your design. For industrial designs, the term of copyright is generally limited to 16 years. This runs from the date on which the first 50 products have been produced, known as the “industrial application” date. This is a relatively unique concept to New Zealand law, as copyright for industrial designs is not generally provided in other countries.

While copyright exists automatically, and you do not have to register your right, design registration will give you a higher degree of protection than copyright. It will be easier to enforce your rights.

Registering your design in New Zealand will also provide you with a filing date or priority date for any corresponding design applications you make overseas within the following six months. This has the benefit of establishing that you created the design before anyone else in the world.

How Do I Register My Design In New Zealand? 

Your design application must include drawings with a sufficient number of views to illustrate the article shape in detail. It is also possible to file pictures of the article rather than line drawings. There are standards for any images you submit as part of your application, and you must make sure that your design application meets these standards.

For example, images must be able to be printed onto single-sided A4 format. Each image should also be labelled with the view of the article that it illustrates. The images must be clean and clearly illustrate the features of the article of the design.

You must also file a statement of novelty, which must include the title or name of your article, identify the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation that are novel, and refer to your drawings or representations. The standard of originality for registered design is limited to New Zealand, which means that when assessing a design registration, the design examiner at IPONZ will only consider prior publications and prior use of any product or article in New Zealand. However, you should be aware that publications on the internet will constitute publication in New Zealand.

How Long Does Registration Take?

After applying to register your design, your application will be examined by a design examiner at IPONZ. The examiner will determine whether your design is compliant with the registration requirements, including novelty, and will provide an initial response within 15 working days from the date your application was received.

If the examiner determines your design is registrable upon the first examination, you will receive an Examination Complete Report. If, however, the examiner has objections to your design application, you will receive an examination report outlining the reasons why your design application was rejected and any amendments required to meet the registration conditions. You will have up to 15 months to file the required documents and meet the conditions of registrability.

You may request that your application be delayed for up to one year from the filing date of the application in the event if you want to prevent premature publication of your product or article. If you do not request a delay, and no objections are raised during the examination, registration will typically take one to three months from filing.

How Long Will My Design Be Registered For?

Your design will be registered for a term of up to 15 years. You will need to pay renewal fees at five and 10 years to ensure your design remains registered. Once your design registration expires, or if you allow your registration to lapse by failing to make renewal fee payments, others will be free to:

  • use;
  • make; or 
  • otherwise, sell your design.

Key Takeaways

Whether you are an established business or just starting up, you should consider whether you have (or should have) protection in the form of design registration. A registered design can be a great way to protect your original feature of a shape, configuration or pattern. If you need advice about registering a design with IPONZ, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

FAQ’s

What is an intellectual property design?

A design is the new or original features of shape, configuration, pattern, or ornament. A registered design is a proprietary right in such a design and protects the product or article’s visual appearance.

What is copyright?

In New Zealand, copyright may automatically exist in your design. For industrial designs, the term of copyright is generally limited to 16 years, which runs from the date on which the first 50 products have been produced, known as the “industrial application” date.

How do I register my design in New Zealand?

You can register your design with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand. Your design application must include drawings with a sufficient number of views to illustrate the article shape in detail. It is also possible to file pictures of the article rather than line drawings.

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