Registration requirements: EU Designs from EUIPO
For companies that trade across Europe, the EU Design system (also known as a Community Design) may provide the most suitable route to design protection, as it will cover the product categories covered in the application in all European Community countries via one single application. The right can be obtained from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) provided certain registration requirements are met.
This is a guide to obtaining Europe-wide design rights and design protection in multiple overseas jurisdictions, click here for more on obtaining national rights.
Registration requirements: obtaining EU Design protection
EUIPO's EU Design application process operates in the same way as most national processes (e.g. the process used in the UK), with one significant exception. When applying to EUIPO for design protection using an EU Design, applicants are able to seek registration for multiple designs in one single application (a set fee scale applies depending on the number of designs included in the application).
Registration requirements: scope and length of design protection
As with a national right, registration grants an exclusive right to make, sell, distribute or licence a design within the territory of protection (i.e. in the EU) for the length of registration, and gives you the legal means to act against any party that seeks to copy that design without your permission.
An EU Design initially lasts for five years; however, it can be renewed every five years, up to a total of 25 years, on payment of renewal fees to EUIPO.
The Unregistered Community Design right
An Unregistered Community Design right will arise automatically when a design is first made available to the public in the European Community (provided it meets certain conditions of eligibility). As with the registered EU Design, this right will apply across the European Union; however, it does not last as long (it is only valid for three years from the date that it is created). In addition, it can be much harder to prove infringement based on an Unregistered Community Design; for example, you will need to prove that the right exists and that 'actual' copying has taken place. It is important to record the creation of designs and/or the first marketing of those designs in order to help substantiate such a case.
Registration requirements: extending design protection into other markets
The Hague System for the International Registration of Designs (the Hague Agreement) enables design rights holders to extend certain national design registrations into other territories, provided that those countries are signatories to the Agreement. This must be done within the priority period (six months from initial registration).
Applicants can also choose to apply to WIPO to register an industrial design (via one single application) in the signatory countries of the Hague Agreement. The 65 signatory countries include the EU and the US, but not the UK.
Speak to your attorney for tailored advice on how best to protect your design rights in the territories of most interest to you.
Registration requirements: further information
You can find out more about obtaining design protection, and the processes for enforcing and exploiting design rights here. For more information on obtaining design protection using a Community Design from OHIM, contact our customer support team using the contact form at the top right of this page.