A registered design protects the appearance of art, unlike a patent which protects the underlying invention on which an article is based. The appearance of an object may be protected by way of a South African Registered Design. South African registered designs are divided and the different parts of the designs register include aesthetic and functional design.
Aesthetic designs protects the appearance of an article, irrespective of the aesthetic value thereof. The duration of an aesthetic design is 15 years. 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. The duration of a functional design is 10 years.
Designs are grouped into different classes of technology and a design application may be filed in one or more of the Locarno Classifications, to provide protection against infringing products falling in the same class. The protection is limited to articles falling in the same class for which the design has been registered.
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).