Registration of Designs in European Union

Greece/October 2014

The more attention the Businesses pay to Designs, the more successful they are!

The Design is the appearance of the form, patterns and colors. The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) registers more than 80,000 designs per year.

The Community Design applies to all states – EU members. The more attention the Businesses pay to Designs, the more successful they are. The development of the companies that they give attention to Designs is 22% more impressive than those which do not pay attention to Designs.

There are two ways to protect your Designs. Either you protect your Design with registration in the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market and thus acquire a Registered Community Design or alternatively you trade your Design directly without registration to OHIM based on the fact that this is known as non-registered Community design. Of course, the question is which of the two, one should prefer.

The common protection -the Designs offer- consists of the following elements:

Both kinds of Designs protect the manufacturer as well as the offer, promotion, import and export of a product incorporating the protected Design, and the use of which Design without the consent of the owner of the Design is illegal.

However, there are some differences between Registered and Unregistered Community Designs. Thus, with respect to the duration: The registered community Design has a duration of 5 years from the time of filing the application and may be renewed every five years with a maximum duration of 25 years.

In contrast, the Unregistered Community Design is protected for three years from the date the plan was available for the first time publicly in the territory of the EU After three years, no protection may be renewed.

Also, there are differences in purpose. The registered community Designs  are protected against similar Designs, even if the Design violates another Design which has been developed in good faith, ie without the designer be aware of the existence of another Design.

In contrast, the unregistered community Designs entitle to prevent the commercial use of a Design only if the Design is the copy (made deliberately) of the protected Design, that has been prepared in bad faith, knowing, for example, the existence of the former Design.

It is obvious that the protection granted by a registered Design is stronger and more transparent compared to the protection granted by a non- registered Design.  On the other hand, it is not always easy to prove that you do disclose a Design within the European Union, at a specific time.

It can also be difficult to prove that your Design has deliberately been copied and that the one who violates it – should be aware of the existence of your Design. However, a registered Design provides you with a certificate, which facilitates the proof of the ownership on your Design.

With these factors in mind, you can begin to create a strategy for the protection of your Design.

If you disclose your Design and then decide that you want to apply for registration of your Design because you want to have stronger legal protection for the Design, it is advisable you do it within one year from the time of the disclosure of the Design.

This period is called the grace period  and if you go to ensure the Design after this time, then the Design is vulnerable to violations but in any case you always have the legal means to fight for your rights and their protection.

Chryssa Tsiotsi
Eurofast Global, Athens office