Home » Can You Protect Ornamental Objects? | IP Conversations

Can You Protect Ornamental Objects? | IP Conversations

Why? What? When? How? These are some of the most used words in John’s dictionary. He’s pretty curious about the workings behind what happens in his life, and many of those have to do with the inventions and the workings of intellectual property in the world around him.

John, like everyone else, dreams of running a side hustle based on his hobbies. He’s recently been talking to coffee shops in his neighborhood about decorative mugs, but he doesn’t want his hard work to be stolen by other people. Naturally, he goes to IP Geek to know the best way to protect his work.

Hello IP Geek! I’ve recently been considering running a side hustle making bio-degradable mugs for some of the local coffee shop chains. I’ve talked to the owners and they’re pretty interested, and I’ve incorporated some unique art elements into the prototypes. But I’m worried about protection- can I possibly get a patent for it?

I’m glad you’re thinking of IP, and thinking of it at the starting stages itself. It’s essential to get IP Protection as soon as possible in many cases.

In this case, your coffee mug will not be eligible for patent protection, as there is no inventive step (ie; technical innovation) involved. But you can get protection under the Designs Act, 2000.

Design protects original aesthetic appearances given to articles capable of being made and sold separately. Note that this design needs to be new and undisclosed to the public, which is why coming to me for advice before you run your business was a wise choice.

Starbucks cups, for example, have been granted design protection in the USA. Of course, it is called a Design Patent over there, but the effects are largely the same.

Does that mean design protection works the same way as patent protection, just for ornamental designs?

Not exactly. Strictly speaking, patents are protected for 20 years by default while Designs get protection only for 10 years. However, Design protection is a lot easier and faster to obtain, and there are no annual renewal fees. Design protection can also be renewed for another 5 years, on request.

In contrast, getting a patent granted is a lot trickier and takes a lot longer. It’s also more costly, both in terms of application and renewal. There are also considerably less fees involved in application drafts.

Are design and patents exclusive of each other? What if I want to get the benefits of both these protections?

You can! Well- not in this case, because the mug does not have a novelty element and so can’t be patented. But you can get patent and design protection for the same object.

For example, if this mug of yours had a unique temperature-control mechanism that was patentable, you can apply for a patent. At the same time, you can apply design protection for the way it looks. Tech companies often do secure Design protection for their unique-looking devices.

Oh, that clears things up. I’ll definitely keep all this in mind before my product goes public- thanks IP Geek!


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