Design right in brief

Design rights protect a new design from being copied. The registration of a design right at the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) provides, with certain exceptions, an exclusive right to use the design in Finland. In other words, others may not use the design without the consent of the design right owner.

Design right protects the appearance of a product or a part of a product, in other words the design. Everyday items, such as bookcases, ties, bread rolls, graphic symbols or even the interior of a hamburger restaurant can be protected. Furthermore, integral parts of products can be protected, such as fabric patterns or coffee cup handles. However, the object of protection must always be a concrete article: for instance, plans, ideas or liquids cannot be protected.

Requirements for registration

Design right is granted if the design is new and has individual character. A design is considered new if no identical design has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application. An exception to this is the ‘grace period’, which means that you can use the design for one year before its registration without losing its novelty. This enables you to test the market before registration. It is however advisable that the design is not made available to the public in any way before a design right application is filed with the PRH.

Individual character means that the overall impression of the design differs sufficiently from the overall impression of any design already been made available to the public. The individual character is assessed in each group of products from the point of view of an informed user. For instance, the degree of freedom of a screw designer is more limited than that of a chair designer.

A design does not have to be artistic in order to be registered. Simple or commonplace designs cannot however be registered. Basic geometrical forms such as spheres or squares cannot be registered in order to obtain exclusive rights to them. The obstacles to registration mentioned in the Registered Designs Act may also prevent registration.

How to apply

You may apply for registration either using our online application form (in Finnish) or by filling in a paper form (in Finnish). The design right application becomes pending only after the application fee of €200 has been paid. Additional fees may also be charged. Before you file an application, it is useful to check our free DesignsNet design database whether there are any previous designs that prevent the registration of your design. When a design right application leads to registration, the registration is valid for five years from the filing date and can be renewed for four further periods of five years.

Further details/Contacts

We are pleased to serve you in any matter concerning applications or registrations. If you have any questions about design right, please do not hesitate to contact our advisory service on +358 29 509 5532.