Registered Designs Examination Practice guide

Part E: Locarno classification

Includes classifying designs under the Locarno system.

Chapter 14: Locarno classification

14.01

The Registrar uses the Locarno Classification system, which was established in 1968 by the Locarno Agreement, is overseen by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (‘WIPO’) in Geneva, Switzerland, and which is used internationally for the purpose of classifying designs. Locarno provides third parties with a mechanism for effectively searching our database of UK registered designs.

14.02

The system comprises of 32 classes and sub-classes covering a wide range of products, with each labelled using a so-called ‘general indication’ to designate the area to which the products belong. In principle, products are classified according to their functionality. However, in cases where a design cannot be classified according to functionality (most often because it has no function), it will be classified according to its appearance.

14.03

It should be noted that the inclusion of a so-called ‘product indication’ in the Locarno system does not endorse or validate the suitability of that product for protection as a registered design. For example, inclusion of the term ‘natural produce’ within Class 1 of the Locarno system does not mean that the visual appearance of natural produce is suitable for protection as a Registered Design (in fact, and as stated at paragraph 2.09 above, natural produce is excluded from such protection on the basis that it does meet the definition of a ‘product’ as defined in Section 1 RDA).

14.04

At the IPO, the classification of designs is carried out as part of the examination process by an Examiner. This means that the application process does not require the applicant to supply any indication as to which Locarno class the product (or part of a product) should go into. However, applicants may, if they wish, provide an indication of the Locarno class to which the design is to be classified, and such information should be provided alongside the indication of product. In respect of classification the Examiner will make the final decision.

14.05

Applicants should note that we currently use the 11th Edition of the Locarno Classification, which came into force 1 January 2017.

14.06

More information on designs classification and the Locarno system can be found on WIPO’s website.