Industrial Designs (Canada) and Design Patents (U.S.) protect the way a product looks. Protection is afforded to features whose appearance is judged by the eye, and includes features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament. Design protection is narrower than patent protection. However, design protection is useful for any product whose aesthetic appearance is expected to sell the product. Design protection provides a market advantage: a 10 year monopoly in Canada, and 14 years in the U.S. The design process includes a) application drafting and filing, b) passing the design through examination (called prosecution), c) maintaining the design, and d) enforcing or defending against design rights. As patent agents and lawyers, we navigate inventors through the entirety of this process.

Designs protect the way things look. To protect the way a product works, please refer to our link on Patents.

Application drafting and filing

A design application includes a short description and a complete set of drawings of the product. We work with the inventor to identify core features of the design, and to generalize non-essential features, in order to produce drawings that will obtain the broadest protection possible. Once the drawings are ready we assemble and file the application as directed. As with patents, an application must be filed in every country in which protection is desired. We file Canadian industrial design applications ourselves, and we work with a network of trusted associates to file in the US and other foreign countries.


A design application must pass examination before it is issued. Design examination is relatively simple, and typical objections are overcome with minor amendments. However, the design examiner will check that the design does not so closely resemble any other registered design as to be confounded with the other design. Once examination is passed the application proceeds to issuance.


Some design offices periodically require fees to be paid to keep the design alive. We track and pay such fees on your behalf.

Design Enforcement and Defence

Ultimately, it is up to the design owner to enforce his or her design rights through the use of the courts. We provide analysis and representation for design owners, as well as defendants who have had design rights asserted against them. Example analyses include infringement, validity, and risk analyses.