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Filing a design


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We offer the only 100% online filing and prosecution system for South African designs. For this reason, we are able to discount the cost to file South African designs by more than 70%.

A registered South African design attorney will file your design application with the South African Designs Office, and we will email you the South African design filing receipt and official application number within one South African business day of filing. The application number will not change upon grant. Our US$299 filing fee includes official fees (US$20) and disbursements.

Tips on filing a South African design

Article name:

We suggest that you use a generic "article name" (e.g. Container), instead of being descriptive (e.g. Milk bottle).


Only one class (as per the Locarno classification) may be selected per design application. Accordingly, the design filing cost increases by $299 per class selected.

Select the main class (e.g. Class 9 for "packages and containers") and not the subclass (e.g. 9‐01 for beverage bottles) ‐ the South African Designs Office categorises designs according to the main class only.

Design type:

South African design law provides for "Aesthetic" designs and "Functional" designs. Aesthetic designs protect the features of shape that are dictated by "eye‐appeal", whereas Functional designs protect the features of shape that are dictated by the function the article is to perform. This does not mean that all functional products should be registered as Functional designs. For example: when design registering a chair, one would typically:

  • file an Aesthetic design to protect the overall shape of the chair; and
  • (optionally) file a Functional design to protect the shape of connectors / strengthening ribs on the underside of the chair.

The drawings submitted for both Aesthetic and Functional design applications would be the same.

Most South African designs are filed as both Aesthetic (15-year term) and Functional (10-year term) designs.

Tools are typically registered as functional designs. However, functional designs may not be registered for "spare parts". In other words, if an article (e.g. an oil filter) is expected to be replaced during the life of a parent part (e.g. an engine), a functional design registration may not be registered for that article.

Definitive statement:

The definitive statement should only be amended to:

  • add / remove the reference to protecting the "shape" of the article;
  • add / remove the reference to protecting the "configuration" of the article;
  • add / remove the reference to protecting the "pattern" applied to the article;
  • add / remove the reference to protecting "ornamentation" applied to the article (this is not an option for functional designs); and
  • disclaim portions of the drawings shown in dotted lines (if any).

If in doubt, leave the default definitive statement "as is".

Explanatory statement (optional):

The explanatory statement is used by a judge during infringement proceedings to understand the design. Most South African designs do not include an explanatory statement. But, we suggest adding a short paragraph identifying the component parts of the article (with the aid of reference symbols in the drawings / photos), and describing their use. Our system limits the explanatory statement to 700 characters.

Example: The computer includes a keyboard “A” and a screen “B”. The screen is pivotally connected to the keyboard to permit hinged movement and rotation of the screen relative to the keyboard.

Note - Mask works: Functional designs for an integrated circuit topography / mask work must include an explanatory statement detailing the function and operation of the topography / mask work.

Priority claim (optional):

Priority may be claimed from any design application filed in a Paris Convention country during the previous 6 months. An electronic copy of the priority document must be uploaded. We do not require a hardcopy of the priority document to be couriered to us.

Release date (optional):

If the article was publicly released prior to the South African design filing date and no priority is claimed, you should claim a release date (being the date of first public release) not more than 6 months before the South African design filing date.

Drawings / photos:

The design application may include either drawings or photos.

An exploded view is permitted.

Reference symbols may be included in the drawings / photos, with corresponding text added to the explanatory statement.

Each design application may show only one embodiment of the article.

Should you wish to "disclaim" portions of the article, these portions should be shown in broken lines. However, only portions that are "made separately" may be shown in dotted lines. For instance, one may not show select portions of an integrally made article in dotted lines, leaving other portions drawn in solid lines.


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