Audio Transcription of Interview on Classic FM on 31 July 2006: Different Types of Registered Designs

TONY BLEWITT:

Classic FM 102.7 - intellectual property is our topic of discussion with the people from Spoor & Fisher. In the studio with me this morning is again Keith Brown. Welcome back Keith.

KEITH BROWN:

Thank you very much Tony.

TONY BLEWITT:

We are talking about registered designs. Now, going on from last week, are all registered designs the same or are there different types?

KEITH BROWN:

There are two broad categories of registered design. There are designs registered in what is called Part A of the register and registered designs in what is called Part F of the register. Part A designs relate to aesthetic designs, namely designs which appeal to the eye and are judged by the eye, whereas Part F designs are for more functional articles. An example of a Part A registration might be the design of something like the distinctive shape of a soft drink bottle. An example of a Part F registration might be the design of something like a step ladder. In this case people don’t buy the article because of its appearance or the visual impression that it makes, rather they would buy it for its intended function.

TONY BLEWITT:

The mechanics of it are important?

KEITH BROWN:

Correct. If a technical product has a distinctive shape and configuration it can be registered. For instance if one has designed a new step ladder, the new design could, as I’ve said before, be the subject of a design registration in Part F.

TONY BLEWITT:

Is it possible to protect the design of a spare part, lets say, for a motor car?

KEITH BROWN:

According to the Design Act, it’s not possible to register the design of an article which is in the nature of a spare part in part F of the register. A good example might be something like a brake pad. This is undoubtedly a functional design because the design is dictated by function, People don’t buy a brake pad because it appeals to their eye. They would buy it purely for its function. Thus one would look to register a design of this kind in part F. However, as I’ve said, the Designs Act has a blanket prohibition on the registration, in part F, of designs for articles which are in the nature of spare parts. I believe that the reason for this is a matter of policy and a desire to prevent spare part suppliers (for instance the original suppliers of brake pads for motor cars) from creating for themselves a monopoly in particular spare parts and thereby being able to manipulate the price of such parts to the disadvantage of the consuming public. If they could get registered design protection, original suppliers could conceivably elevate the price of replacement parts very substantially because they would be in a position to prevent other people from making and selling such parts. There are however many complications surrounding the question of spare parts and what in fact is meant by the term “spare part”, to the extent that even patent and registered design attorneys, who specialise in these things, can argue at length amongst themselves about what is actually meant by this term.

TONY BLEWITT:

How does one actually go about registering a design?

KEITH BROWN:

It’s a relatively simple procedure. One files a registered design application at the Designs Office. That application has to be prepared in terms of the Design Regulations, which are referred to in the Designs Act. There are various formal documents that have to be completed and signed. Also, official fees have to be paid to the Government. The Designs Office receives the application, examines it to see that it is in accordance with the legislation, and in the fullness of time registers the design if the legislative rerquirements are met.

TONY BLEWITT:

How long approximately for the whole procedure to be completed?

KEITH BROWN:

If everything went smoothly one could probably be looking at anywhere from six months to ten months from the date of application.

TONY BLEWITT:

All right, once again Keith Brown from Spoor & Fisher, thank you very much indeed for being here.

KEITH BROWN:

Absolute pleasure Tony. Thank you very much.

Keith Brown

SPOOR & FISHER

Date published: 2006/07/31
Author: Keith Brown

Tags: audio transcription classic fm registered designs