A design is a commercial property right that grants its owner the exclusive right to use an aesthetic design (design, color, shape).
A design can be protected if it is novel and has individual character, that is, it differs sufficiently from existing designs in essential respects. In some nations, a prerequisite for registration is that a design has not been disclosed to the public before registration (absolute novelty). In other countries, including Switzerland or the EU, there is usually a one-year novelty grace period which cushions previous disclosures by the design owner, who is often ignorant of this legal situation (relative novelty).

The registered design is a strong weapon. That is because it is up to the opponent to prove a lack of novelty or individuality. This is often more difficult than you think!

If the right to a design has expired after a maximum of 25 years (five 5-year periods), it may be possible to permanently protect the design with a shape trademark. Shape trademarks can be extended indefinitely like name trademarks (10-year protection periods). Copyright may also be a legal basis for the continued existence of the protection after the expiration of the design right. Copyrighted works are thus protected until 70 years after the death of the author. This can be of great importance for design classics such as the USM Haller office furniture system or the Le Corbusier LC2 armchair.