Types of Patents and IP Rights: Designs

Last checked on:
19 March 2021
Published on:
24 March 2021

External appearance of an object can be protected by the designs and models law. This external appearance can include for example colour, shape or use of material. Examples are the design of a vase, chair, car or the design of a fabric.

Design options

You can choose between a:

  • Benelux design, via the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP).
    The protection will last for a period of 5 years and you can extend this 4 times, for a period of 5 years each time, up to a maximum of 25 years.
  • Community design, via the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in Alicante, Spain.
    Uniform European legislation shall apply to the community design that offers exclusive protection throughout the entire European Union. The design right offers a maximum of 25 years' protection, and the right must be renewed every 5 years.
  • International design, via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
    An international design offers you protection in a large number of countries throughout the world, i.e. those countries that are affiliated with the Hague Agreement of 1925. Protection may be applied for in all affiliated countries, but you may also choose a number of these countries. An international design is actually a bundle of national designs. The protection of your design is therefore subject to the national law of the countries that you designated when registering. In contrast to registering an international brand, you do not need to have a Benelux registration in order to register an international design.

Advice and support

Please contact a design attorney for advice and support when registering your design. The design attorney can advise you with regard to your design strategy, for example, and can assist you in any disputes that may arise. Further information about the design attorney can be found on the website of the Benelux Association for Trademark and Design Law, the professional association for trademark and design attorneys. Their website is only available in Dutch and French.


Users are advised that, business decisions should not be made on the basis of these searches alone. It is advisable to seek professional advice (from a registered patent or trade mark attorney) before taking important business decisions.

Questions about patents?

If you need more information on how to apply for a patent in the Netherlands, please contact the public information office.

Commissioned by:
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
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