Difference between Trademark and Design Registration

By | May 10, 2019
Trademark and Designs

Well, both design and trademark protect aesthetic features of a company logo, however; for a deeper understanding trademark protects the symbol or mark (signifying your business) and design protects the outer features of the product like shape, configuration or aesthetics.

Most of us get confused when it comes to trademarks and designs.

Well, what is it all about?

Design sense is important for people who are into creative fields and also for businesses who wish to protect their intellectual rights. There are no rules when it comes to design yet, some of the elements help you to improve the user experience and composition. Usually, businesses go for trademark or copyright registration to protect their logos and other creative elements since they do not know there’s another option available to them.

So I thought to put together a brief differentiation between the two for people who are still confused just like I was some time ago.

Trademarks and Business

Trademarks are synonymous to brand identity and contribute as a great asset for companies who initially invest in their Intellectual Property.

They can be a name, logo slogan, colour which specifically associates with the products or services of your company. It is a unique identity which differentiates you from others in the market and gives your business authenticity.

With a registered trademark, your business has a competitive advantage of having an exclusive right to use the mark on its product’s packaging, website, banners and online campaigns.

Most of the companies usually apply for trademark registration for sole use over a local, territory or state and also because they do not want any third party to claim usage over the mark.

Well, trademarks can yield a lot of benefits in future especially for the companies who have more than one (through assignment).

When Should you go for Design Registration? 

Well, both design and trademark protect aesthetic features of a company logo, however; for a deeper understanding trademark protects the symbol or mark (signifying your business) and design protects the outer features of the product like shape, configuration or aesthetics.

For instance, if your company has a product which contains elements like lines, contours or any specific colour, texture or material bringing in some sort of commercial value.

To initiate design registration you must make sure that it is new and distinct from other patterns or graphical symbol existing in the market.

Just in case you are still confused about how you should make your design distinct here are some of the tips which will make any design stand-out.

What Makes a Great Design?

There is no fixed definition of what makes a good design because everyone has its own definition for it. Let’s understand how you can make your design a great piece of creativity.

Innovative Design

The design can either be for a new product or service or for an already existing one but it is out to be innovative. If your design is creative and distinct then it will definitely strike your audience.

After all, it’s a game of thinking out of the box!


A good design is functional and provides a solution to the problems. It simplifies the complexities in design and emphasis on its functionality.

Say, for instance, if you are following any particular composition while photographing something then it must reflect in the end result.

Aesthetically Sound

After creativity, this is another important aspect of a great design. The design you wish to create or have already created must have a good aesthetic value.

When your design is beautiful it will naturally gain the attention and praises of people. Remember, the design is not all about technicalities; it has to be appealing and useful too.

Focus on your users

You will agree with me on this.

All your creativity must serve a purpose and that is for the end user. Your designs should always be user-oriented and add value to your creativity. Focus on the purpose of its creation and it will definitely satisfy your users.

What’s the Difference?

Design Registration
  • Registration: The process is initiated only if the examiner finds it creative and appealing.
  • Governing Act: The Indian Trademarks Act, 1999
  • Registration Office: All the design registrations are examined at the Patent Office.
  • Validity: Once registered, it is valid for 10 years after which it can be renewed for 5 more years.
Trademark Registration
  • Registration: The examiner assesses the registration based on its class and name selected by the applicant.
  • Governing Act: The Design Act, 2000
  • Registration Office: Trademark Registrations are executed by the trademark office of the particular state in which it is filed.
  • Validity: A registered trademark is valid for 10 years after which it can be renewed to be used further.

Designs are also applicable to business identity. How? Which Registration is more suitable?

Different business logos serve as an identity to them and most of the entrepreneurs wish to protect the same to safeguard their reputation in the competitive market.

Well, it depends on how they wish to protect their logos i.e. either through trademark, copyright or design registration since some businesses operate on a large scale and need protection even out of its country of origin.

Let me explain this with a famous example.  

Apple Inc. has registered its logo as a Trademark to protect it within different countries on the other hand, due to its creative elements Starbucks Corporation has to copyright for its logo.

The entity needs to seek legal registration only in case when the person wishes to use the logo or design commercially. In other cases, it can be protected under Common Law.

Also, at times there is not a great scope of design protection under trademark or copyright registration. Design Registration includes a particular purpose and not just a representation of the creation.

Legal Procedure outside India

The governing laws for Design Registration can change according to different countries. For instance, in some country, it is regarded as Industrial Designs and for some parts, this comes under patents.

If you wish to register your design in countries that are part of the Paris Convention for protecting the Industrial Property then you will have to register it under the Industrial Designs. It follows the Locarno Classification formed under the Locarno Agreement which justifies the scope of protection of your design.

If you wish to market your design in the European market then, EUIPO registers designs under the Registered Community Design. In India, the designs are registered under the Design Act, 2000.

To register your design legally in any part of the world it has to be distinct and innovative.

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