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Patent & Legal

Design protection

Products from different companies are often similar in their functionality down to the smallest detail, so that the external appearance is the only way for the consumer to distinguish the products from one another.

Therefore, legal design protection is crucial to sustainably defend the economic success of your company.

white ip | Patent & Legal sees itself as your partner in the field of design law and design registration. Efficient, uncomplicated, and fast. Contact us.

Over 250 companies already trust white ip

Design law

Main areas
of consultation


To ensure that your design has a solid foundation: A thorough design search helps determine the novelty and individual character of your design. These properties are not examined by the DPMA or EUIPO, but are highly relevant in the event of infringement proceedings.


The development of an optimal strategy for your design protection, whereby the interests of your company are expanded by analysing your competitive field.


The filing of your design application, submitting an error-free application while selecting the optimal representations.


The judicial and extrajudicial enforcement of your design rights.


Representation before the authorities – we have your back when it comes to design protection so that you can concentrate on your business activities.


The defense of infringement claims, enforcing design law on behalf of our clients.

The "small 1x1" of design strategy

FAQ - Frequently asked questions

What is being protected?
In principle, two- and three-dimensional manifestations are eligible for protection.

Design protection covers two- and three-dimensional manifestations of products or parts of products, in particular products or parts thereof. Similar to the other IP rights, the product must be new and unique and no exclusion criteria must be met - this is explained in more detail below. Novelty is not given if the product, in particular its appearance, has already been disclosed, for example in a catalogue, at a trade fair in Germany or abroad or on the Internet.

What is the purpose of design protection?
Prosecution of and protection against imitation.

Design protection is used effectively as part of a corporate strategy. The purpose of design protection is to prevent the imitation of a product. Owners of a design can take legal action against imitators, can prohibit imitation and licence products. This licence can open up a lucrative business segment. Take a look at the possibilities for exploiting intellectual property.

Where is my design protected?
According to your corporate strategy, the place of protection is of great importance.

A design protected in Germany is called a design; at European level, it is referred to as a Community design. In principle, design protection is effective in the country in which the property right is registered - true to the territorial principle.

Is the design eligible for protection?
No identical design may have been disclosed to the public.

The following examples are intended to illustrate protectable designs: These often include furniture, car bodies, fabrics, appliance housings, toys, clothing, product packaging and also graphic designs. A design is considered new if no identical design has been disclosed to the public before the filing date of the design application.

Can another property right be considered?
Design protection may not be the appropriate property right.

Our team of patent attorneys and intellectual property attorneys will be happy to advise you on whether other options, such as a trade mark application, are more suitable. This decision depends largely on the property that needs to be protected. However, the corporate strategy and the industry environment should also be considered in the context of the opportunities.

Why is design research necessary?
The novelty and uniqueness of a design must be guaranteed for it to be incontestable.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office presupposes the novelty of the design as a prerequisite for protection, but does not examine it. Extensive research should therefore be carried out into the known mould vocabulary before the application is filed. In addition, the best possible representation of the design should be ensured and the completeness and accuracy of the application for registration of the design should be guaranteed. Otherwise the application will be rejected. All of this is complicated for the layman. Feel free to contact the experienced attorneys at white ip | Patent & Legal.

What are the benefits of design protection?
First and foremost, imitations can be contested and the business model can be expanded by licensing a design.

Beyond the mere ownership of the design protection and the associated protection of the appearance of your products against imitation, a company receives an increase in reputation, respectability and thus an increase in company value.

What is examined by the DPMA?
The DPMA only examines compliance with the formal details of your application, which as a rule have no relevance in court.

The DPMA examines the application for formal errors and whether absolute grounds for refusal have been violated. This may, for example, concern public order or morality. It is examined whether the design is a purely technical feature, as technical functions are not eligible for protection under design law. Protection by a utility model or patent can be considered for this purpose.

The DPMA does not check whether your design has the required novelty and individual character. This must be ensured by a thorough design search prior to registration. Otherwise, your design may be declared invalid in the event of a legal dispute.

How long does design protection last?
Design protection can be maintained for up to 25 years.

The design protection is initially valid for five years. Protection can be extended for up to 25 years against payment of a maintenance fee.

How is design protection enforced?
The successful enforcement of your design right requires registration with the DPMA or EUIPO.

The registered design gives you the right to prohibit third parties from using it, whereby the term "use" refers in particular to the manufacture, offering for sale, placing on the market, import and export. The enforcement of design protection begins with the registration procedure at the DPMA. As soon as this has been successfully completed, proceedings can be brought against infringers of the property right. In the opposite direction, disputes against the owner of the design protection can be defended against. Please contact the attorneys at white ip | Patent & Legal for the implementation or defence of your legal action. Settlement can take place by means of judicial enforcement or - as is usually the case - by out-of-court settlement. white ip | Patent & Legal supports you with warning letters and the associated claims for injunctive relief and damages.

We also advise you on the drafting of corresponding contracts, such as licence and distribution agreements. We advise you from the preparation of the application to the enforcement of infringement claims in order to ensure the best possible protection of your intellectual property. Our partner, white ip | Business Solutions GmbH, supports you in not losing sight of business management issues, e.g. with regard to financing and sales.

Design law

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Design law

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