The ornamental look of a product can drive sales and offer distinct competitive advantages. Industrial design protection is a great complement to utility patent protection, and in some cases may be the only type of protection available to products incorporating well-established technology.
In the United States, industrial designs are protectable by way of design patents, and potentially by trade dress and copyright protection. Outside of the United States, ornamental product design is usually protectable through an industrial design registration process.
The term of protection of industrial designs depends largely on the avenue down which protection is sought. If a U.S. design patent is granted, it will usually last fourteen years from the date the patent issue. Trade dress protection can last indefinitely and U.S. copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. In any case, specific terms of protection should be referred to an expert because a variety of factors need to be considered.
If you have products that include ornamental aspect that you believe to be advantageous in the marketplace, contact RKM for assistance in evaluating your options.