The appearance of a product can be of significant value and add cache, consider for example particular bottle shapes, pieces of furniture and electronic equipment such as food mixers and shavers. If novel, such appearance may be registrable as a design. Items such as bottles, furniture, shoes and electrical appliances have been registered as designs in New Zealand and Australia.
Designs are intellectual property rights that can be used to protect new features in the way an article looks, for example, features of its shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation.
The article may be a manufactured in three-dimensions, although some two dimensional items such as textiles can also be registered as designs.
For a New Zealand design to be granted that design must be novel. The application to register the design must be lodged before the design is used or shown to other people.
It is not possible to protect features of shape or configuration which are dictated solely by the function which the article to be made in that shape or configuration has to perform.
A design registration can be kept in force for a period of time up to 15 years. During this time the registered proprietor of the design has the exclusive right in New Zealand to make, import, sell, hire or offer sale or hire any article in respect of which the design is registered.