A "design" means features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process.
Designs can be registered for a wide range of products, including computers, telephones, CD-players, textiles, jewelry and watches.
Registered designs protect only the appearance of products, for example, the look of a computer monitor. Registration of the design does not protect the way in which the product relating to the design works. Protection for the way in which a product works may be available under patent law. Computer software is protected under copyright law.
Registered design owners have the right to prevent others from manufacturing, importing, using, selling or hiring the design product.
Registered design protection is renewable for periods of five years up to a maximum of 25 years.
To be registrable a design must be NEW at the filing date of the application, or the priority date (if claimed). A design is new if:
Disclosure of a design before filing an application may destroy its novelty. As a result, the registration may be invalid because the design is not new.
This means that to obtain a valid registration, the design owner should apply for registration before marketing the designed product in the Hong Kong SAR or anywhere else in the world.
An application for registration of a design is only subject to formality examination by the Registrar of Designs as to whether the necessary information and documents in support of the application have been filed in compliance with the statutory requirements. The Designs Registry generally does not conduct substantive examination on the application, which means that the Registry does not assess the registrability of the design, that is, whether the design is new and the appearance of the article appeals to and can be judged by the eye. This notwithstanding, if the Registrar of Designs determines that, on the face of the application, the design is not new or is not registrable for any other reason, he may refuse the application.
Designs that cannot be registered include the following:
If you have registered a design, you will have the exclusive right to the design in relation to the article for which the design is registered. If other people use it in the course of trade or business in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the Hong Kong SAR) in relation to the same or similar articles without your consent, they may be liable for infringement of your design and you may take legal action against them.
The design registration system of the Hong Kong SAR provides territorial protection. Hence, designs registered with China National Intellectual Property Administration or designs registries of other countries or regions do not automatically receive protection in the Hong Kong SAR. In order to obtain protection as registered designs in the Hong Kong SAR, designs must be registered under the Registered Designs Ordinance (Cap. 522) and the Registered Designs Rules (Cap. 522A) of the Hong Kong SAR.
Only the owner of a design is entitled to register a design. An owner may obtain ownership by commissioning the creation of the design, or under an employment contract or by assignment, etc.