These notes deal with registered designs — we can assist you with registered designs in South Africa and other countries.If, after reading these notes, you have any questions, please do not hesitate to approach us.

Design | registered designs are there to protect the design of an article — we like this definition:-a registered design serves to protect novel, original three dimensional features of articles intended to be multiplied by an industrial process, such as the shape of the article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color of the article, which, when applied to the article gives the article a unique appearance, without regard for artistic or aesthetic merit.

In this definition:

  • novel | means novel, never been seen before, anywhere in the world
  • original | does not mean that the design must be in any way unique or inventive, but merely that the article should not be copied from other sources — the equivalent requirement in respect of a Functional Design is that the design must not be “commonplace in the art in question”
  • industrial process | registered designs are intended, essentially, to cover mass-produced articles

Aesthetic or Functional Design?

South African designs law recognises two types of registrable designs:- aesthetic and functional designs

  • aesthetic design | is a design which has features that appeal to and are judged solely by the eye — the design is invalid if it attempts to cover the function the article is intended to perform — registered in Part A of the Designs Register
  • functional design | is a design which, in addition to eye-appeal, has features which are necessitated by the function which the article is to perform — registered in Part F of the Designs Register
  • designs with aesthetic and functional features | can be registered in both Part A and Part F


Before grant and registration of the design, a registered design application confers no rights other than a right of priority and, until the design is registered by the CIPC (Patent Office), it cannot be enforced against third parties who make or sell the protected article authorisation.Before registration of the design, therefore, threats of legal action must be avoided.

Related law

  • registered designs do not protect and are not meant to protect underlying ideas — the only way to protect an underlying idea is to register a patent in respect of the idea — patents can only protect novel ideas and known ideas can only be protected by way of a registered design if the known idea is embodied in a novel shape
  • registered designs provide excellent protection against slavish copying, better than copyright because of the registration of the intellectual property right
  • registered designs do not protect the name of the product – this is what trade mark registrations are for

Registering your design

To enable us to assist you in preparing and filing a registered design application we require illustrations and possibly a description of the concept or design that should include, at least, the following:

  • a brief description of the design and its novel features, accompanied by drawings or photographs of the design. We can get this from you by e-mail or by discussing the design with you in consultation
  • details of any alternative forms of the design or of possible modifications thereto that you might want to introduce in future


The process of obtaining a registering a design is a single-stage process, which involves the filing of a registered design application in South Africa.

This marks the beginning of a 6-month priority period that is derived from the Paris Convention, an international treaty of which South Africa is a member. The treaty allows you to keep your options open for 6 months to file registered design applications in countries outside of South Africa.


Our charges for preparing and filing a registered design depend on the complexity of the design and the time it takes to prepare the application, particularly the drawings. We can give you an estimate of costs once we receive details of your design and the country or countries of interest to you.

Do you have any further questions on Registered Designs

Do you have any further questions on Registered Designs?

Do you have any further questions on Registered Designs?