Against the background of increasing competition and harmonization of technical standards, the "appearance" of a product has become an increasingly important instrument for profiling the item in the market. High-quality designs are also used by numerous smaller and medium enterprises as a competitive element in opening up niche markets.

To prevent competitors from imitating a design that will frequently have been developed at substantial cost to the company concerned, a registered design is available in Germany for those seeking such protection.

The registered design protects the aesthetic configuration of a product. In return, the design must be 'new' and 'unique'. A period of grace of even twelve months to the registered design. The registered design is also a protection right that does not require examination, which means that registration is already completed on the basis of formal prerequisites.

Applications are submitted to the Munich office of the German Patent and Trademark Office. The registered design can be protected for a maximum of 25 years. Protection in the area of design can also be obtained outside Germany on the basis of what is known as a Community design and its associated international agreements.