What is an industrial design?

Industrial design registration may be granted for the visual appearance of a finished product made by hand, tool, or machine. That is, the decorative shape, ornamentation or pattern applied to an article. The shape of chairs, pens, the Coca-Cola™ bottle, and fabric patterns, are typical of what features may be protected. Functional aspects of an article are not covered by industrial designs. These aspects are the proper subject for patent protection.

Who may apply? Where should I file?

The proprietor of an original design may apply for industrial design protection. Normally, Canadian clients file their first industrial design application in Canada or the United States. You must file an industrial design application in every country where you want protection, but a decision for other countries can be delayed up to six months after the first filing. Factors that influence this decision include where potential markets or competitors are located, and the costs involved in obtaining an industrial design registration. If your design has already been published, your application must be filed within one year of the date of publication.

Term of Protection and Rights upon Registration

The term of industrial design protection is ten years, with a maintenance fee payable at the five-year mark. Once your design is registered, you have the exclusive right to apply the design to an article for the purposes of importation, rent or sale.


While your Industrial Design application is pending, you can put the phrase DESIGN APPLICATION PENDING on your product. This phrase has no legal significance but may serve to warn others that might consider copying your product that you are serious about protecting your rights.

Once your design is registered, you should mark your article with the capital letter 'D' in a circle and your name. This will let everyone know that they do not have the right to use your design without your permission.

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