CIPO Extends Industrial Design Protection to Buildings and Structures

June 18, 2024
By Matthew John Graff

The Industrial Design Office has announced that it is changing its practice with respect to industrial designs applied to buildings or structures.

Under the previous policy, designs applied to buildings or structures to be constructed on-site were not registrable because they were not considered to be “finished articles” to which a design may be applied. They were only registrable if the designs were capable of being “preformed, portable and delivered to purchasers as finished articles or in sections to be put together by a simple operation such as bolting”.

As of June 14, 2024, the Office will take the position that buildings and structures, including those constructed on-site, may be acceptable finished articles to which a design can be applied. The revised practice is applicable to all pending applications, regardless of their filing date.

The new policy is stated in section of the Industrial Design Office Practice Manual.

This is a welcome development and the Office’s communication recognizes that “Broadening the scope of acceptable industrial design subject matter to include buildings and structures constructed on-site fosters and supports innovation and creativity by encouraging innovators in that industry to continue developing new designs for buildings and structures knowing that industrial design protection may be available.”

The change also aligns Canada with other jurisdictions, notably the United States, in which design patents are available for buildings and structures on-site. For example, Apple Inc. has obtained several patents for its building designs, including the cube design of its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York and its two-level store design in Joy City mall in China.

For more information, please contact a member of Bereskin & Parr’s Industrial Design practice group.

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