Area of Law: Intellectual Property
Answer # 325
What is an Industrial Design?Region: Ontario Answer # 325
An industrial design relates to the visual appearance of a finished article made by hand, tool or machine. If there are only a few such items that are produced, they might be considered a work of art and be entitled to copyright protection. But generally, if the design is used to produce more than 50 “useful” items, to obtain protection, the design must be registered as an industrial design and the rights to it can be legally protected against imitation.
If someone designs a piece of equipment that is supposed to function better than what is already on the market, the new functionality of the new equipment is not subject matter for an industrial design. However, if the appearance of the equipment casing is unusually different and original, then the design may be proper subject matter for an industrial design.
For example, types of items that can be registered as industrial designs include: fabric patterns, furniture designs, shapes of bottles, and ornamental aspects of equipment casings.
For more information about industrial designs, contact the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
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