What is a design?

  • The aspect of a product or a part of a product is considered a design.
  • The aspect, in particular, may consist of the characteristics of lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or of its ornamentation.
  • Product is understood to be each object manufactured according to industrial or traditional methods and includes (inter alia) parts destined to be assembled within a complex product, as well as packaging, presentation, graphical symbols and typographical characters.
  •  The design can both the product itself (and thus a three-dimensional creation) as well as ornamentation of the product (a two-dimensional creation).
  • The protection of a design can thus cover a large variety of products.

However, an idea (as such) cannot be protected. Only its realization can possibly qualify for protection.

Caution! A computer program is not considered to be a design, although it can possibly be protected by a copyright or a patent.

Who can apply for a design?

In most countries, a design can be applied for by:

  • a natural person (an individual)
  • a corporate entity
  • a combination of multiple natural persons and/or corporate entities.


An application for registration of a design must be made in the country (or countries) for which protection is sought. The design can be protected on National, Community or International levels, thus:


Design protection is a matter of national legislation, with the exception of the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) where unique legislation – the Benelux Convention in Intellectual Property – concerns designs. An application, therefore, cannot be limited to just one of the three countries.

European Union

Protection conferred by the Community design (registered or not) covers the whole of the European Union (currently 27 countries).

More info:
Factsheet Community Design EN.pdf


(The Hague Arrangement) Under The Hague Arrangement, the principal advantage is the ability to choose protection in several countries with one single application.