Our solutions /  Applying for and registering protection

Designs

Do your competitors imitate the appearance of your products? Design registrations give you exclusive rights to your designs.

Benefits of design registration

The appearance of a product is very important for the success of the product. It is not enough for a product to be technically advanced to succeed in the market, it must also look attractive. For this reason, efforts are made to design products and parts of products. As product design is an important competitive factor, as copying of successful products has also increased. 

Design registration entitles the holder to prohibit others from commercially using designs that give a similar overall impression. Commercial use includes, for example, the manufacture, sale, import and export of a product. 

What kind of designs can be protected by design registrations?

Design registrations protect the appearance of a product, that may consist of its outer lines, shapes, surface textures or materials. Aesthetics or artistic input is not relevant for obtaining design protection. Design registrations can be used to protect, for example, industrial or handcrafted products, product packaging, the appearance of patterns, surface structures or even graphic symbols. Design protection can also cover visual user interfaces of software. Design protection does not cover the technical innovations contained in a product. Patent or utility model protection may be available for such features.   

Requirements for protection

Design protection requires that the design is new and has an individual character. 

The novelty of a design means that a similar design, or product based on it, has not previously been made public. The earlier product or design must be identical or very similar to block novelty. A product or design is considered public if it has been published in an earlier design application, in course of business or in any other way. A significant exception to the novelty requirement is the grace period in the European Union, which allows a product to be published and used 12 months before the application date of the design application. 

The individual character of the design is assessed by considering if the overall impression given by the design is different compared to designs that have been public before the application date of the later design application. In practice, the difference in the overall impression is dependent on the product category. 

Registration authorities and registration procedure

A design is registered in the EU with an application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). A design that applies only to Finland is registered in Finland with an application made to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH). 

EUIPO does not examine whether a design is new or has individual character and the design is registered if the formalities of the application have been fulfilled. Novelty and individual character will only be examined if someone files a cancellation application for an EU design registration on the grounds of lack of novelty and individuality. During the application process, the Finnish PRH also examines whether a design is new and possesses individual character. 

The application process is fast, and the design is typically registered in the EU within one month. For cost reasons, almost all designs are registered in the EU, even though protection may be needed mainly in Finland. 

We protect designs all around the world
In addition to the PRH and EUIPO, we act as our clients’ representative in Sweden, the United Kingdom, and internationally through Hague system at WIPO. In other countries, we protect our customers' designs through our associate firms.
Initial preparations
Before preparing and applying for protection, we review the objectives of protection, in which countries the design protection will be sought, if one or more designs are used to protect the features of the product, if parts of the products should be protected separately, and what images or drawings of the design are available. If images or drawings are available that can be used, we will proceed directly by preparing the application. If the images or drawings require amendments, the work is typically done by the client, but we have external service providers who can make the required amendments.
Drafting and filing of the design application
When the pictures or drawings of the design are ready, we will prepare and submit the application to the registration authority. If the application concerns Finland, the EU, Sweden, the United Kingdom or is a so-called international application under the Hague Agreement, then we will handle the submitting and further processing of the application ourselves. If the application concerns other countries, we will use our partner office in the relevant country to draft and submit the application. We report and invoice only after the application has been submitted. As the application procedure progresses, we will report notifications and decisions issued by the registration authority. In the EU, a design application is typically accepted by the registration authority without further action. At the end of the application process, the registration authority will provide a registration certificate, which we will forward to the client.
Services after registration
In most parts of the world, design registrations must be renewed every five years for the protection to remain in force. We will monitor renewal dates and remind our clients of the need to renew their design registrations.

Please note that the cost of a design registration depends on whether there are images or drawings of the design that can be used without amendments in the design application. The number of designs contained in the application also affects the price. The consultation related to protection and the measures required during the registration procedure are included in our package prices, except measures needed to overcome decisions on non-registrability due to formal or substantive reasons issued by the registration authorities. 

Design example 1

For a Finnish tool manufacturer, we protected their new tool design in the European Union for 998 € (excluding VAT), including official application and advertising fees.

998 €
Design example 2

We protected four new designs in the European Union for a domestic sports equipment designer for a total price of 2,000 € (excluding VAT), including official application and advertising fees.

2000 €

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Mari Nieminen
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Mari Nieminen

IP Legal Trainee

I work in the IP Legal Trainee position, where I assist in the processing and application of European, domestic, and international trademarks and designs. I have a strong international education and work background, having lived in China, Malaysia, and Estonia. I have received most of my education abroad and in 2022 I graduated (Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)) from Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia. I can serve customers fluently in Finnish and English.

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Jenni Aho

IP Specialist, administration and formalities

I work in the IT, mechanics and electrical group. I assist patent attorneys in all matters related to patent processing and handle external communications with clients and authorities. I previously worked in the patent field in 2002–2008. I have been by Boco IP since 2013.

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Saoussen Merdes

Trainee Patent Attorney

I have over 15 years of experience in research and education. Prior to joining Boco IP, I carried out research in the fields of solar energy and nanotechnology at Tokyo University of Science, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Freie Universität Berlin. I recently also worked as a Senior Scientist in a Finnish nanotechnology company. I joined the Physics & Electricity team of Boco IP in 2021. I advise our clients on matters related to patenting nano and semiconductor technologies.

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Nina Virolainen

Patent Attorney

I assist and advise our clients in protection of inventions in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry including diagnostics, molecular biology, microbiology, immunochemistry and process chemistry. My area of expertise is also the protection of biotechnology, bioenergy and cleantech processes and solutions. In addition, I assist our clients with employee’s inventions, competitor tracking, freedom to operate assessments and novelty searches.

I have worked in the patent industry since 2017. Before that, I have several years of R&D experience in developing and implementing innovative biotechnology and environmental technology solutions, both as a university researcher and at a startup company. I got interested in the IPR industry after being an inventor in patent applications myself, so I have multifaceted experience in turning research into protected inventions that add value to their owner. The best part of my job is getting a glimpse into pioneering research in many different fields!

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PhD (Environmental Biotechnology), M.Sc.
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Finnish, English, Swedish, German
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Hanna Hausalo

Office Assistant

I work as a part-time Office Assistant while studying at university. My responsibilities include a variety of organizational and administrative tasks. I have been working at Boco IP since 2020.

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Studies in musicology
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Anu Keinänen

European Patent Attorney, Partner

I am a physicist and therefore work on inventions in many different areas of technology. However, most of my assignments relate to information, micro- and nanotechnology. This role provides a great opportunity to work with technically creative people, and I see inventors as stars of their companies. In addition to patenting, I provide a service that enables companies to outsource employment invention processes so that mandatory obligations are met, and patenting supports company's businesses. In dispute cases, I have sat in both sides of the table, and have a specific interest in essential patents. I have been employed by Boco IP since 2011.

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M.Sc. (physics)
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Expert member of the Market Court, The Association of Finnish Patent Attorneys (Chairman 2022-), Fédération Internationale des Conseils en Propriété Intellectuelle, European Patent Institute, Licensing Executives Society.
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Jutta Schauman

IP Specialist, administration and formalities

I help with trademark and design matters and also assist our IP lawyers in the IP Legal team. I have been employed by Boco IP since 2011.

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M.Pol.Sc.
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Swedish, Finnish, English, Spanish
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My task is to enable our experts to have a smooth and comfortable everyday life in many ways. In addition, I manage the purchase ledger and assist in financial administration. I am also involved in occupational safety and health and on the board of the personnel fund. I have been employed by Boco since 2017.

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