Design Rights

In terms of Article 63 of the Patents and Designs Act (Chapter 417 of the Laws of Malta), ‘designs’ means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself, and/or its ornamentation.

A design is protected by a design right if the design in question is/has:

– New: A design is considered to be new if no identical design has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration or, if priority is claimed, before the date of priority.

– Individual Character: A design is considered to have individual character if the overall impression it has on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced by any other design which has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration or, if priority is claimed, before the priority date.

Requirements for registration of the application for designs

An application for the registration of a design shall be filed with the Comptroller of Industrial Property in the Maltese or English language on the appropriate form and accompanied by the prescribed fee.

Examination of the application

The Comptroller of Industrial Property shall examine the application in order to ascertain that it complies with the requirements of the law. If any of these requirements are missing the Comptroller will inform the applicant and invite him to make the necessary amendments. If the necessary amendments are not made the Comptroller shall refuse the application.

Term of Protection

A design right is protected for a period of five years from the date of filing of the application and is renewable for one or more periods of five years each up to a total term of 25 years.

Rights Conferred by the Design Right

The registration of a design shall confer on its holder the exclusive right to use it and to prevent any third party not having his consent from using it. The rights of the proprietor have effect from the date of registration but no infringement proceedings may be initiated before the date on which the design is in fact registered.

The protection of a design right extends to any design which does not give a different overall impression on the informed user.