An industrial model is a contract with the government of a country or an international organisation (such as the OAMI), which grants the right to manufacture or market objects with a certain form or appearance in a territory exclusively, thereby preventing anybody else from producing or marketing it during a maximum period of twenty five years. In exchange, detailled drawings of the design proposed must be registered and made public and rates must be paid periodically.

Industrial models only offer protection in the territories it is applied for and as such, anybody is free to explore the design in the remaining, non-protected territories.

Once twenty-five years have passed, exclusivity comes to an end and the design then passes into the public domain. It may therefore be manufactured and marketed by anybody in the territory or territories that were protected.

The main requirement to be fulfilled in order for an industrial model to be granted is that the design was not known about previously. It must therefore be considered novel.