Israel's new Designs Act will come into effect in August 2018. Until then, the relevant provisions of the Patents and Designs Ordinance will continue to control.

Design protection is available in Israel for original, previously unpublished designs of useful products.

Protection is granted for five years, and may be renewed for two further terms of five years, for a total of 15 years. Beginning in August 2018, two further extensions will be available, thus providing for a maximum of 25 years of protection. Designs registered under the old system which are still in effect in August 2018 will be eligible for an additional three year tack-on term.

The new Act will also allow for unregistered design protection for a period of three years from the date upon which the design is first commercialized. Unregistered design will protect against copying, but will not grant a complete monopoly in the way that a registered design does. Until the Act comes into force, non-registered designs may be protectable under alternative legal theories, such as the law of unjust enrichment, or the law of passing-off. However, it is far more difficult to succeed on a claim under one of these theories than under a claim for infringement of a registered design.

Under the existing regime, any prior publication creates a bar to registration. Under the new Act, designers will be granted a one-year grace period in which to register the design. Publication during this period will not adversely affect the possibility to register the design.

Israel is a member of the Paris Convention on Industrial Property. Thus foreign designs may benefit from the priority of an earlier filing in a treaty state if the Israeli application is filed within six months of the foreign application.

Israel's copyright law denies copyright protection for the designs of useful articles, unless they are intended to be produced in less than 50 units, or are in fact produced in less than 50 units. However artistic elements of a design of a useful article, which are "substantially separable", such as graphics, may qualify for independent copyright protection.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.