As we reviewed in our previous post - Industrial Design as a Competitive Tool- the value of strategic industrial design protection (also called a “design patent” in the US) should not be underestimated.
Yesterday, the USPTO issued a registration for the Apple Watch, which provides protection for a term of 14 years in the US. That would be 10 years if registered in Canada, though this term is soon to increase to 15 years once the changes to the Canadian Industrial Design Act come into force. Remember, industrial design law in Canada protects the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which are applied to a product. Functional elements are notprotected. For protection, registration is required. While it is likely that Apple has filed a corresponding Canadian application, such a filing would most likely be based upon the US registration.
Will this be enforced against competitors? Probably - don’t forget that industrial design infringement formed the basis of successful recent claims by Blackberry (BlackBerry sued Typo Products LLC for infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D685,775) and by Apple (Apple sued Samsung for infringement of Apple’s D504,889 design patent).