Industrial designers can obtain intellectual property protections over their distinctive-looking new products by registering their designs with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Registered industrial designs receive exclusive, legally enforceable rights for up to 10 years in Canada. Registration protects the appearance of a product, not what it is made of, how it is made, or how it works.
An article including a registered design element can be marked with a special mark. The symbol indicating a registered industrial design consists of a capital “D” within a small circle. The symbol should be followed by the name of the owner of the design.
Canada’s Industrial Design Act does not require owners of registered industrial designs to mark them but it is a good idea to do so.
Placing a mark on the article may deter others from infringing on the protected design by copying it. If someone copies a registered design that is marked, a court can order that person to stop using your design and to pay compensation. On the other hand, someone who copies an unmarked registered design cannot be ordered to pay compensation for the infringement. The court can still order that person to stop using the design but you will not receive compensation for any losses that resulted from the infringement.
If you are a registered owner of an industrial design that you believe has been infringed, you may take legal action. Keep in mind that there is a three year time limit for starting a lawsuit over alleged industrial design infringement. Any delay in taking action can harm your interests. You should consider obtaining legal advice about your options as soon as you become aware of any infringement.
Designers invest a great deal of time, imagination, creativity, and resources in their work. Industrial design law and processes can protect those investments and designers’ rights in their designs. Given the complexity of the law and processes in this area, designers are well advised to seek advice from a lawyer or registered patent agent about protecting and enforcing their interests.
Canadian Intellectual Property Office
A guide to industrial designs