There isn’t just one way:
- As soon as the design is ready, you automatically own the copyright.
- Are you collaborating with someone? In that case it is wise to make clear agreements about what to keep secret and to whom which rights belong. This is particularly important if you develop or design something while being employed or working as a freelancer. Check your employment contract or draw up a contract on these agreements and possibly add a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
- In the EU we have the unregistered community design right, a way to protect your design for a period of 3 years.
- Do you want to officially register your design? This can be done by means by means of both a registered Benelux design, or a registered community design right. This offers a broader and longer protection than the unregistered (community) design right.
- In order to avoid discussions, an i-DEPOT is a useful tool. This proves that you had a certain idea at a certain moment in time. Careful: the i-DEPOT stops nobody from imitating or copying your product. That protection only derives from the above IP rights, such as a copyright or a design right. An i-DEPOT is nothing more than a means of proof and is not an IP right.