A newsletter from CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office) says that industrial design applications are increasing. Registered industrial designs are not as well known as trade-marks, copyrights, or patents, but can give valuable protection to product designs in the right circumstances.
A registered industrial design protects unique features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article. For example, automakers often obtain industrial design registrations for things like the shape of a grille or taillight. A furniture maker might apply for the design of a chair.
More detail is in this article I wrote a while back.
CIPO’s newsletter states:
“… in fiscal year 2010-2011 the Industrial Design Office has had its second best year in history in terms of growth. Highlights of the year included 5 138 new applications received and conformed – only 36 applications short of our record year in 2007 and approximately 5% more than 2009′s results.
Internationally, industrial designs are on an upswing, increasingly being recognized as an accessible form of IP protection and as an integral part of an IP strategy.”