An enforceable right is only obtained once a design has been registered. A design is only registered by the South African Designs Office a few months after filing of the design application. You do not have an enforceable right until such time as you have received notification of registration of the design from the South African Designs Office. However, should you become aware of anyone copying your design, it is possible to apply to have the registration process expedited, following which legal action may be taken.
In South Africa, the designs register is split into two sections. Firstly, an aesthetic design protects the appearance of an article, irrespective of the aesthetic value thereof (such as cell phones covers or automobile designs). Secondly, a functional design protects the appearance of an article in as far as its appearance is necessitated by the function that the article is to perform (such as a paving stone or aluminium profiling).
The duration of an Aesthetic design is 15 years.
The duration of a Functional design is 10 years.
In addition, designs are grouped into different classes of technology and a design application may be filed in one or more classes, to provide protection against infringing products falling in the same class. It is important to note that the protection is limited to articles falling in the same class for which the design has been registered. The classes into which designs are classified are set out at the end of this page.