Designs: Terms and conditions for protecting a design

“Design” describes the shape of a product, whether it is two- or three-dimensional. To be able to protect it, the design must be new and original.

The protection of designs applies to completely new creative forms (designs), which include both two-dimensional designs (such as watch dials and bottle labels) and three-dimensional designs (such as toothbrushes, lamps or armchairs).

Protection for a maximum of 25 years

The holder of a protected design may prohibit any third party from making use of their creation for industrial or commercial purposes for a maximum period of 25 years.

Conditions to be met

To be able to be protected, a design must be:

  • New
  • Original

In other words, it must differentiate itself from existing designs by major characteristics.

Other options

The creations, such as logos or three-dimensional shapes, that you use to distinguish your products or services may also be protected as trademarks. A specialized lawyer (patent or trademark advisor) can help you choose the appropriate intellectual property rights.


As the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) does not verify whether a design satisfies the criterion of novelty, you must check this yourself before registering a design; for example, by consulting specialist literature, looking at designs at trade shows or performing online searches. Where necessary, use a patent or trademark advisor to clarify the situation.

Even those not planning to register their design should ensure that realization of their designs does not entail any infringement of third-party rights on designs.


The tax on registration of a design in Switzerland is CHF 200, according to the IPI (2015 figures). Other costs may be added (Fee schedule for designs protection).

Scenarios in which protection is excluded

It is not possible to protect the following as designs: intangible objects (such as musical creations); designs resulting exclusively from a technical function (screw threads, for example); manufacturing methods, for example, for clothes (which can potentially be protected by a patent) and the technical characteristics of a design.


Last modification 17.08.2021

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