The novel appearance of a product with an utilitarian function may be protected as a design. Both three dimensional objects, like a chair or a table, and two dimensional drawings or patterns (e.g. fabrics) may be protected as a design.
Example of a design:
The shape of the box for collecting domestic chemical waste has been protected as a design. Third parties may bring any box in the economic traffic, but not a box that has the same outer appearance as the protected box or one strongly resembling this.
In the EU a design may be protected until one year after making it public. Therefore we recommend to protect designs before the product has been shown to the public.