Design (is. hönnun) is defined by the visible appearance of a product or parts thereof, e.g. shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation etc. A design is a product that is manufactured or handmade. Even if a product has a technical function, only its appearence is protected by design protection. A design may be two or three-dimensional and it must be new and differ from what already is known on the date of filing. The level of difference is evaluated on a case by case basis depending on the leeway of the designer to design something new. If the design is e.g. pattern for tyres, the leeway is considered rather low.
A design can be an individual product, a part of a product or a range of products. Most importantly the pictures of the design must be clear and demonstrate the design from all angles without any additional features.
A design may be protected by filing an application with the ISIPO. A design does not enjoy protection if it is merely used, however, copyright may in some cases apply. A registered design may be renewed for up to 25 years and registration provides exclusive rights for using the design, to allow others to use it (licensing) or to forbid others the use thereof.
Prior to filing it is sensible to verify whether something identical or similar already exists. The designer may file for protection himself, however, if the applicant is a company, the name of the designer always has to be mentioned in the application. When the required fees have been paid, a formalities check is performed. Search and examination is only performed upon request and is subject to the payment of the required fee. The procedure is fairly swift and if no rectifications have to be made, the design is published in the IP Gazette.
An application filed in Iceland only applies to Iceland. A first application for a design may, however, be used to create rights in other countries since it establishes a so-called priority. If the aim is only to protect the design in a few (1-3) countries, individual applications may be filed based on priority. The international filing system (Hague system - ISDM) may be used to select a larger number of countries or an application, covering the European Union, may be filed with the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
When deciding where to protect a design it is good to focus on both actual marketing areas and those of the main competitors. Many factors may affect the selection and it is wise to seek assistance with professionals in this area before a decision is made.
Upon registration, all designs are published in the IP Gazette. Opposition against the registration is not provided for, however, anyone may request, at any point in time, that the registration be annulled. The ISIPO examines such requests and rules on whether to reject or to accept the request for annulment.
Any ruling of the ISIPO is published in the IP Gazette and it may further be appealed to the Board of Appeal for Industrial Intellectual Property Rights.
In a nutshell:
Protects visible appearance
Exclusive rights to use
and stop others
Can be sold
Valid for up to 25 years
or seperate periods of 5 years
Only valid in Iceland
but can be used to create rights abroad
year end 2023
registered Icelandic designs
year end 2023