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REgistered Designs

Registered designs (design patents) protect the appearance or design of an industrial or artisanal product.

Requirements for registered design protection or the legal validity of the registered design are primarily novelty and uniqueness. When used as intended, the design must remain visible. No design protection exists for features determined exclusively by the technical function.

Apart from the “unregistered EU design” specified subsequently, the registered design must be filed for registration at the appropriate office and is examined for certain formal requirements there. An examination of novelty and uniqueness is not done in the course of the registration process in most countries. It is possible to proceed against the registration of a registered design, however, by means of an application or action for annulment by demonstrating that the requirements for protection are not satisfied.

The scope of protection extends to any design or product which does not give a different (visual) overall impression to the informed user.

EU-wide protection can be effected by filing an EU design. The maximum duration of protection is 25 years. In the case of a registered EU design, there is a novelty grace period of 1 year with respect to the applicant’s own prior publications. It should be noted, however, that for national registered designs corresponding novelty grace periods do not exist in all countries.

In addition to the registered EU design, there is an “unregistered EU design” which offers protection from (deliberate) imitations for a non-extendable term of three years from first publication which must take place within the EU.
Subsequent applications in other countries which have the same seniority as the first application can be made within the period for claiming the right of priority of six months.

The enforcement of the rights to the registered design against infringers is made in a broadly similar manner to that for a patent.


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