Design patent protection is a usual notion for the protection of intellectual property, so far as it concerns the visual identity or the physical appearance of a product. Design patent protection is indicated also as model protection. Subject of protection is not the idea or invention hidden behind the product (in this latter case patent protection or utility model protection should be applied for). Instead, the design patent protection covers the characteristic features, perceivable for eyes, of an industrial product.
The design protection provides for the owner of the protected model comprehensive protection regarding intangible property, against imitation of the design. Thereby the owner of the model obtains an exclusive right (monopole), restricted in space and time, for the use of the protected design. The objects of protection in the event of design patent protection may be of a high variety. For instance it is possible to apply for design patent regarding the following subjects of protection:
- appearance of products
- product packing
- drawings or objects of art (see also copyright law)
- graphic design of folders
- website layout
The protection shall become effective by recording in the design patent register, where the protection covers – similarly as in case of trademarks – definite groups of goods and services. Model protection is existing at the national and international level, in the way that also Community design patents may be applied for. In this case the applicant shall receive model protection in all member states of the European Union.