In today’s world, design plays a crucial role in creating unique products with attractive appearances. Design is not only an aesthetic aspect but also a factor that determines the competitiveness and intellectual value of a business. In this article, we will discuss how to effectively protect a design through a design registration, ensuring exclusive rights to its use and protection against unauthorized use. You will learn what a design is, how to protect it, and what benefits a design registration brings to your business.
A design means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation. Whereas the “product” means any industrial or handicraft item, including inter alia parts intended to be assembled into a complex product, packaging, get-up, graphic symbols and typographic typefaces, but excluding computer programs.
To effectively protect a design and obtain exclusive rights to its use, it is necessary to register the design. This registration is done by filing for a design registration to an appropriate intellectual property office. The application should include graphic or photographic documentation presenting the design in a clear and understandable manner. Your trademark and design attorney will provide you with detailed information on how to protect the design and how to prepare drawings or photographs for the application.
Registration of a design gives the owner the right to exclusively use the design and protects against unauthorized use by other entities. A design registration also provides evidential power and facilitates the enforcement of any claims in case of design infringement.
An industrial design registered with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and protected throughout the European Union is called a Registered Community Design. It is the most commonly chosen form of design protection by the EU entrepreneurs.
A registration of a community design protects only the external appearance of a product, not its technical solutions. Techical solutions may be subject to a separate type of IP protection, such as patent protection. Only what is visible in the drawings or photographs depicting the design is protected by the design’s registration.
It is important that on the date of its filing with the office, the industrial design is new and has individual character.
A design shall be considered to be new if no identical design has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration of the design.
A design shall be considered to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public before the date of filing of the application for registration of the design.
The filing for registration of a to the EUIPO involves presenting images of the design in the form of up to 7 views in a uniform technique. A description of the design is not required. The name(s) of the creator(s) of the design must be provided.
After submitting the application, the registration procedure proceeds efficiently. The decision to register the Community design is typically issued by the EUIPO within about 10-14 days from the date of application.
The Registered Community Design provides protection for an industrial design throughout the European Union. This protection lasts for a maximum of 25 years, with renewal fees required every 5 years. Any form of a design that does not create a different overall impression on an informed user is protected. The Community design does not cover features of a product’s appearance that result solely from its technical function.
The Registered Community Design grants the owner exclusive rights to use the design and to prohibit third parties from using it without the owner’s consent. Use of the design includes activities such as manufacturing, offering for sale, placing on the market, importing, exporting, and using a product in which the design is incorporated or applied, as well as storing such a product for those purposes.
It is worth noting that the protection of a Polish industrial design is limited to the specific products for which it has been registered. However, a Registered Community Design provides protection for the appearance of products regardless of their intended use. Therefore, registering a design with the EUIPO is more advantageous.
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