What is a design?
The Designs Act 195 of 1993 provides for the registration of two types of designs, namely aesthetic and functional designs. Generally, an aesthetic design has to be an article to which a design is applied which is visually appealing, while a functional design need not be aesthetically appealing. A functional design application could be considered for an article which shape dictates its function as being functional. An example of an aesthetic design would be a piece of jewellery, while an example of a functional design would be a toothbrush.
There are separate registers for these separate types of design registrations. The period for a functional design registration is 10 years whereas the period for and aesthetic design registration is 15 years. If it is uncertain whether a product is a functional or an aesthetic design, for example, where the design in question is an ornamental spoon which is used to dish up food, while also being appealing to the eye, registration of a functional, as well as an aesthetic design may be advisable and considered at the same time.

The features of the design for which protection is sought need to be novel and original. Furthermore, the effect of registration of a design is to grant the registered proprietor in the Republic, for the duration of the registration, the right to exclude other persons from making, importing, using or disposing of any article included in the class in which the design is registered and embodying the registered design or a design not substantially different from the registered design.
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