A design is an idea that stems from a search for all that is new and aesthetically beautiful, with a strong focus on detail and style. But that’s not all: design is also a project that transforms an abstract idea into a product in which elegance, functionality and aesthetic appearance are perfectly combined.
Everything surrounding us in everyday life is design, starting from our favourite armchair in the home, to a lamp, as strange as it is functional, or to the hi-tech furniture in our living room.
This also includes the design of our smartphones, the graphic and aesthetic aspect of an app or a website.
In every field - furniture, graphics, objects, fashion - everything has its own "aesthetic form" which strikes and fascinates us.

What is design?

A design (or model) belongs, together with utility models, to the "industrial models" category. It is therefore an intellectual creation applied to industry, whose object is the appearance of a product (or part thereof) understood as shapes, lines, colours, external structure, ornament, which makes it recognisable on the market. More specifically:
  • A design has a two-dimensional structure, seen in the lines and colours of the product;

  • A model has a three-dimensional structure, seen in the shape of the product.

In some cases, these two aspects can also be used together.

Why protect a design?

The choice to protect the aesthetic form of a product through the registration of a design or model :
  • Confers the holder with exclusive use rights of the model or design, and with it the right to prohibit any copying or use of the model or design to third parties without prior consent;

  • Enhances the commercial exploitation of a product on the market;

  • Guarantees greater protection in the event of counterfeiting, so that the entrepreneur can more easily certify the certain date of the existence of an exclusive right in court.

Thus in a highly competitive market, you must focus on a design that:

  • Is new and therefore not yet disclosed;

  • Has an individual character capable of giving the consumer, as an informed user, a general impression of the product which is distinctive from other products.

Protection: rights and duration

However, you should know that the legislation also protects unregistered design,
but with considerable differences in terms of protection rights and duration.


Registered design: rights are acquired through registration, hence it becomes part of a company's assets. The protection extends to copies and the like, thus to all objects in which the same individual character is recognised.
Unregistered design: rights are acquired through disclosure (fairs, shows, exhibitions, specialist magazines). The protection only extends to complete copies of a design or model and their prohibition of use.


Registered design: the protection is valid from the date of submission of the application for a period of five years, renewable up to a maximum of 25 years from the aforementioned date.
Unregistered design: the protection is valid from the first disclosure date of the design to the public, for a period of three years. Within the first year, during the so-called “grace period”, you can still proceed with the registration. At the end of the three years, this right expires. To protect a company's products and commercial image, in addition to the trademark, it is therefore also best to include design in its business strategy.

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