Design protection in South Africa is awarded based on the article appearance and not the underlying invention of the article. Design protection is cheaper than patent protection and is often in used combination with trademarks, patents, and copyright to gain maximum protection for an article against infringement from another party. Even when the underlying working of the item is the same as an existing one, design protection can be awarded for the appearance. It is possible though to get design protection not only for the aesthetic appearance, but also the functional design of the item. It is however, necessary to apply for each separately. In addition to design protection for functionality and aesthetic appearance, one can also register a design in more than one class. One cannot however, get design protection for more than one embodiment of a design through a single application. It is necessary to complete an application for each instance. This means that if you have three variants for the same item that you will have to file a separate application for design protection for each of the variants.
An enforceable design protection is only gained once the item design has been registered with the CIPC. It may take a few months for registration to be completed. Absolute novelty is not a requirement for design protection applications. South Africa has a 6 months grace period in which you can file for design protection. If the design has been released you will thus need to register it within 6 months from the date of release for valid design protection. It is however, recommended that you do not release the design to public prior to design protection application. View the procedures for filing under our designs section and contact us today for legal guidance and assistance in completing the application for design protection.