More support, protection for designers

Under the proposed changes to the Registered Designs Act, designs of handmade jewellery can be registered as well.
Under the proposed changes to the Registered Designs Act, designs of handmade jewellery can be registered as well.PHOTO: COURTESY OF TAY LI SUAN

Local designers are set to receive better protection for the rights of their works and an easier time registering new designs, under a series of proposed changes to the Registered Designs Act.

These were tabled by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in Parliament yesterday, in a move to give stronger support to Singapore's design industry. The changes include broadening the scope of designs that can be registered, shifting ownership from commissioning party to designer, extending the scope and grace period provision, and streamlining the process for multiple applications.

The Registered Designs (Amendment) Bill is the first significant change to the Registered Designs Act since it was introduced in 2000. "The proposed legislative changes will update Singapore's design protection regime to take into account latest trends in design and technology," MinLaw said in a statement. "It will support the growth of the design industry by making it easier for designers to protect their creative works."

Designs that can be registered include virtual designs of non-physical products that can be projected onto a surface and have useful functions, such as a virtual keyboard.

Designers will also be able to register colours, to protect them as a design feature in their products.

The designs of artisanal or handcrafted items, such as handmade jewellery, can be registered as well.

Another key change is the shift of ownership from commissioning party to designer. Currently, design ownership goes to the party that commissioned the design. With the change, ownership goes to the creator. This will minimise instances of designers inadvertently losing the rights of their designs. Designers will also have a longer grace period to apply for design protection.

Currently, a designer whose design is made public has six months to register it and can do so under limited circumstances.

The change will extend the period to 12 months and cover any disclosure from the designer, whether accidental or on purpose.

The proposed law will let multiple designs in the same broad category be filed in a single application. For example, a bed and a table now require two separate design applications as each falls under a different sub-category.

With the new law, the designer files a single application for both designs as they belong to the same broad category of furniture design.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'More support, protection for designers'. Print Edition | Subscribe