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Enforceability of a Registered Design

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.

Design Applications in Africa

Algeria designs have a duration of 10 years from the filing date which is extendable for a further 9 years. Industrial designs are filed according to the Locarno Classification which provides the classes and subclasses to which the goods incorporating the designs belong. 

Botswana designs have a duration of 5 years from the filing date which is extendable for a further 10 years. Industrial designs are filed under the Hague Agreement which governs the international registration of industrial designs and allows protection in multiple countries or regions with minimal formalities. Botswana is a member of ARIPO which means that patents, designs or trade marks may be registered with the official intellectual property office of Botswana or ARIPO.

Egypt designs have a duration of 10 years from the filing date which is extendable for a further 5 years. Industrial designs are filed under the Hague Agreement which governs the international registration of industrial designs and allows protection in multiple countries or regions with minimal formalities.

Mauritius designs have a duration of 15 years and is NOT a member of the Hague Agreement or the Locarno Classification.

Rwanda designs have a duration of 5 years from the filing date which is extendable for a further 10 years. Industrial designs are filed under the Hague Agreement which governs the international registration of industrial designs and allows protection in multiple countries or regions with minimal formalities.

Rwanda is a member of ARIPO which means that patents may be registered with the official intellectual property office of Rwanda or ARIPO.

Seychelles designs have a term of 5 years from date of filing with possible extensions of 10 years and is NOT a member of the Hague Agreement or the Locarno Classification.

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Design Rights: Functionality and Scope of Protection

Read Wessel van Wyk and Kimberley Conroy’s contributions to the book published by Kluwer Law International and edited by Christopher V. Carani.