What is a design?
As per Section 2 of Singapore’s Registered Designs Act (RDA), a design includes “features of shape, configuration, colours, pattern or ornament applied to any article or non‑physical product that give that article or non‑physical product its appearance.”
What is not registrable as a design?
As per the RDA, designs that are contrary to the public order or morality, or dictated solely by their function, but also methods or principles of construction and computer programs among others, are excluded from design registration.
Benefits of design registration
If your design is registered, you are granted monopoly over the design within a specific jurisdiction. In other words, you are granted not only the right to prevent others from using the design, but you are also given the exclusive right to control how the design is used. In addition, you can monetise your design. Indeed, as the owner of the design, you will be given the right to assign, license, or sell it to third parties.
Novelty – an important criterion
The fundamental criterion for a design to qualify for registration is its novelty. The applicant must, indeed, not disclose the design to any third party before the application date. The design will be regarded as new if it has not been made available to the public before the filing date of the application for registration. Bear in mind that in Singapore, there is a 12-month grace period from the date of first disclosure. Also, a Statement of Novelty should be provided with the filing application to describe the features of the applied-for design that the applicant considers as new.
It is possible to claim the filing date of a prior application filed in a member country of the Paris Convention to obtain protection for the same design in Singapore. This must be done within six months of the filing date of the foreign application.
Necessary details you will need to provide
To be able to assist you with a design application, we would need:
- The applicant’s name and address
- The relationship between the applicant and the designer (if the designer is not the applicant)
- Representations of the design
- A statement of novelty
- The class(es) and subclass(es) of interest
Important information about the representations of a design
The design should ideally be represented with different views from different perspectives, bearing in mind that the registry accepts up to 10 views per application. Representations of the design can be drawings or pictures. The images should have a plain and neutral background and should not include text, numerals, characters or trademarks, unless those are disclaimed in the application form.
Who is the owner of the design?
As per local practice, the designer is, by default, the owner of the design, unless it can be proven otherwise by a contract. The exception to this rule occurs where there is an employment agreement, in which case the employer is by default, the owner of the design.
The owner can assign the rights to a third party anytime.
Examination process – registration
The examination process will start with the Formality Examination. The duty officer might issue a provisional refusal if the application fails to meet the requirements, in which case, the applicant will be granted a 3-month deadline to amend the details accordingly.
Since 2019, the Singapore design registry has been conducting checks on the Declaration of Novelty in design applications. Indeed, as stated above, a design that is not new shall be refused in the exercise of the Registrar’s power under Section 17(2) of the Registered Designs Act.
Once the requirements are met, the Certificate of Registration is issued and the design is then published in the local journal for public inspection.
Deferment of publication
The applicant has the option to defer publication of a design up to 18 months from the filing date. This decision could be taken as a matter of strategy, in case the applicant intends to file the design in other jurisdictions in the future.
Terms of protection and renewal of a design
Design registration provides protection for an initial period of 5 years from the date of the application. This can be extended for a further 5-year period with a maximum period of protection of 15 years from the date of filing.
Failure to renew the registration before the end of the registration period and to restore it in due course will lead to your registered design being removed from the register.
Risk of revocation
Upon registration, the design could be subject to a revocation action from third parties based on the fact, among others, that the design was not new at the time of filing.
Please read on to learn what to do when seeking design protection in Singapore.
At IPHub Asia, we can help you obtain protection for your designs in Singapore and beyond, and make sure they meet local requirements. Do get in touch if you need any assistance in this connection. You can also visit our website to learn more about our services.