What is an Industrial Design

By the registration of an Industrial Design is protected the form (visible appearance) of the products or of specific parts of them, which are determined by certain features of the pattern, ornaments, shape, lines or color combination or combination thereof. The appearance of the product can be protected by registration, as an Industrial Design, regardless of how this product works or under what trademark it is offered on the market.

The claims over a registered Industrial Design can be related only to the external appearance of the product (packaging, label, detail), which is determined by the contours, pattern, color combination and other essential elements of the vision of the product. These claims may relate to the appearance of the whole product or as well as only to a part of it. Although the designs of most products are functionally or technologically determined, the Industrial Design, as a normative category of the Industrial Property is correlated only to the vision of the finished (final) product, as well as part of it, and does not come directly from the technical and /or functional aspects of the product. Designs that are determined (characterized) mainly by technical and/or functional characteristics of the products can be protected, as some of the other objects of the Industrial Property - as Patents for Inventions and /or Utility Models. The external form (packaging) of the product can also be registered as a volumetric trademark in accordance with the current European legislation.

The Industrial Design currently is applied in a wide range of industrial and handicraft products designed for household, furniture, fashion, industry and other sectors of the economy. The Industrial Design is important regarding the product packaging and the trends in their development.

Basic requirements for registration of Industrial Design

According to the normative criteria of the current legislation in the Republic of Bulgaria, in order to be registered, the Industrial Design needs to meet the basic requirements for novelty and originality.


According to Art. 12 of the Industrial Design Act , the design is new if before the date of submission of the application, respectively before the date of priority, no other identical design is known, which has become publicly available through publications, use, registration or disclosure in any other way wherever to be in the world. The designs are considered identical if their features differ only in insignificant elements.


According to Art. 13 of the Industrial Design Act, the design is considered original if the overall impression it creates in the informed user differs from the overall impression created by the design, which has become public before the date of filing of the application for registration or when priority is claimed before the date of priority.

It should be borne in mind that according to the accepted norms, these characteristics of the Industrial Design, which are determined exclusively by its technical functions, do not receive protection.

Rights conferred by the registration of Industrial Design

The rights acquired through the registration of an Industrial Design are exclusive rights. This means that the titular (the holder of a registered Industrial Design) is entitled to: prohibit third parties from using (manufacturing, storing, offering and placing on the market, importing or exporting and selling) a product whose design is included or to which it is applied an Industrial Design from the scope of the granted protection. The national (local) legislation and the established practice in the respective country determine the real scope of the protection provided to the already registered Industrial Design.

What is the nature of the granted exclusive rights over a registered Industrial Design

The registration of each object of Industrial Property, such as the Industrial Design is, has two main characteristics - territorial and temporal.                     

 – The territorial rights show that the Industrial Design has received protection for a specific territory (country or region) in which it is registered. Provided that no registration of the shape (visible appearance of the product) has been obtained as an Industrial Design in a particular country, the design of that product will not be protected for that specified country. This circumstance will allow anyone freely use this design in the commercial turnover on the territory of that country. The registration of each Industrial Design is always done for a specific territory - country or region (eg EU). If you need to export your products abroad, you need to be informed about under what conditions the protection of your Industrial Designs is valid (applicable) in these countries.

  • Temporary rights - represent the term of protection for the already registered Industrial Design for the specified territory. It can vary for different countries in the range of 10 to 25 years. This is the maximum period provided by the Industrial Design Act for a registered Industrial Design in the Republic of Bulgaria. For a registered Industrial Design in the European Union (RCD), the term of protection is up to 20 years. In order the holders to enjoy the maximum term of protection for the rights acquired over their design, this term is required to be renewed in a timely manner periodically every 5 years. 

Types of registrations of Industrial Design - specifics and advantages

The protection of the Industrial Design of your products can be achieved depending on the financial opportunities, business interests, target markets, marketing strategy and sales forecasts. The registration of an industrial design can be obtained by any of the three main approaches:

  • Local registration by national order.

Such a procedure may be initiated by filing an application for registration of an Industrial Design at the national patent office (service) in the state for which protection is sought, for the territory of a particular country. Such separate procedures shall be carried out before the relevant national patent office (services) in each individual country of interest. If it turns out that the number of the desired countries is large, this way of protection may be slower and more expensive.                                                                                                                                                                       

In the Republic of Bulgaria, an application for registration of a Bulgarian Industrial Design is filed only at the Bulgarian Patent Office.

  • Regional Registration of a Community Design (RCD).

These designs are registered at he European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The applicant obtains protection for his designs in all Member States of the European Union (EU) by submitting only one application for Registration of a Community Design (RCD). The use of this regional system is a convenient way for the holders to protect Industrial Designs that can be used throughout the EU. The obtained registration has the same effect in all Member States, without the need for validation or any other procedure.

  • International registration under the Hague Agreement.                                                            
  • This system provides an opportunity to protect the appearance (design of packaging, label, etc.) of the products through a unified and centralized procedure for international registration of Industrial Designs. More than 80 countries are members of the Hague Agreement, including the Republic of Bulgaria. The procedures for the International Registration of Industrial Designs are administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Patent Bureau Plovdiv