What is an Industrial Design?
An industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a product or article. A design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article; or of two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour.
A design is the appearance of an article, whether produced manually or through an industrial process. The shape and decorative ornaments of a finished article (what is perceived by the eye) is what constitute an industrial design .
To be protected an industrial design must be new/original and non-functional. This means and industrial design is primarily of an aesthetic nature, and any technical features of the article to which it is applied are not protected by the design registration.
Industrial designs protects the ornamental features associated with articles used in commerce.
Advantages of Registering a Design
- Registration gives the owner the sole/private rights to exploit the design commercially.
- Anyone who makes any product bearing a shape similar to a registered design can be sued for infringement.
- If the owner has lost interest in the design or has no means to produce products bearing the design anymore, they may decide to assign the design to others through licensing or contractual arrangements.
National Laws on Designs
In Namibia industrial designs are administered under the Industrial Property Act 1 of 2012.
What Kinds of Designs can be Protected as Industrial Designs?
Industrial designs are applied to a wide variety of products of industry and handicrafts: from technical and medical instruments to watches, jewellery, and other luxury items; from housewares and electrical appliances to vehicles and architectural structures; and from textiles to leisure goods.
Why Protect an Industrial Design?
Industrial designs are what make a product attractive and appealing; hence, they add to the commercial value of a product and increase its marketability.
When an industrial design is protected, this helps to ensure a fair return on investment. An effective system of protection also benefits consumers and the public, by promoting fair competition and honest trade practices.
Protecting industrial designs also promotes economic development by encouraging creativity in the industrial and manufacturing sectors; and contributes to the expansion of commercial activities and the export of national products.
How to Protect your Design Nationally and Internationally
National: register designs with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA)
Regional: Apply for protection through the Lusaka Protocol with ARIPO (can be done directly or through BIPA)
International: You may want to register your design abroad to obtain protection in other territories. The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) provides a centralised registration system where you can e-file up to 100 designs, and target over 66 territories in one single application which you could use to claim priority on in further filings.
Namibia is a member of the 1999 (Geneva) Act of The Hague Agreement. Any individual or business in Namibia can file an international application either with BIPA or directly with WIPO under The Hague System.