Intellectual property: Design registration deadline is 12 months.

Designer wishing to obtain protection for his design shall be cautious when making disclosure of the created design to the public. The law gives the time limit of 12 months for the designer to decide if he wants to proceed with the registration of the design or not. And this is the same period, both in Latvia and also with respect to registration of EU-wide design.

The time count starts as soon as the designer makes the design available to the public - shows the designed product in exhibition, publishes design on its website, commences marketing or sales of the product. If the designer delays this “grace period” and files the registration application after the 12 months have passed, registration of the design will be useless. In such situation third parties will be able to challenge validity of the design on the basis of lack of novelty and individual character, as the law protection is afforded only to “new” designs that do not repeat things created already before.

The safest way would be to apply for design registration before it is disclosed to the public, but it is not always possible. More often designers start thinking about the design protection only when the product has already received some appreciation from the customers.

Thus, where the designer wants to test the product on the market prior to spending money on design registration, he may do so, provided that he limits such testing period to no more than 12 months. If the designer feels that he needs more time, e.g. for first making samples and testing them, the designer may disclose the design to the third party contractor (e.g. the producer of sample product) under the duty of strict confidentiality only.

In unfortunate situations when someone discloses the design to the public against the designer’s will, the law still protects the designer and does not take into consideration such unlawful disclosure for the same period of 12 months.

by Brigita Tērauda, Partner, Head of IPR, Latvia

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