How to Search for Industrial Design

Industrial Design are form of intellectual property which provides protection over the ornamental design of a product. Searching for industrial designs are generally not as straight forward as other patent searches. Searching for industrial design involves properly understanding the various references and comparing the design as provided by such references with the ornamental features of the design in question.

Industrial designs usually involve a substantially limited number of fields that can be used for searching. The industrial design publications provide only main fields for search which includes a title, a classification, and a brief description of the diagrams. With limited text based fields, specialized skills are required to properly interpret the said ornamental features and making the comparisons, which oftentimes is time consuming and labor intensive.

Some of the conventional strategies that are used for conducting design searches are listed below:

  • Use Classifications:

One of the main strategy for Industrial Design search is based on classifications. The most ideal way for conducting an Industrial Design search is to use some sort of classification which categories the various design application into specific characterizations. The most common of the Industrial Design classification system is the Locarno classification system. Usually, all design applications from all the major patent offices of the world are classified under the Locarno Classification System.

  • Limit by Jurisdiction:

Industrial Designs are generally jurisdiction specific and searching by jurisdiction is thus another strategy to provide search results. The searcher may often have to employ several analysis techniques to interpret the various drawings and figures of the industrial design application and compare it to the design in question, as provided by the client.

  • Understand Local Laws:

While conducting an Industrial Design search, it is very important to understand the local design law of the concerned jurisdiction. WIPO Lex (available at is a freely available database that provides easy access to intellectual property legislation and laws from a wide range of countries and jurisdictions. It is pertinent to note that many national or regional intellectual property offices also provide information related to the corresponding national or regional legislation on their official websites. So the searcher shall always check for official websites to understand local laws before dicing into the search.

  • Know about Resources:

There are various freely available (open) and paid databases for accessing the industrial design applications of various jurisdictions. The two largest international designs databases are held by the European Patent Organization and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has links to the sites of many international IP offices.

The above list provides general guidelines for searching industrial designs, and this list shall not be considered exhaustive.

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