MEMBER STATES: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.
EUROPEAN UNION (EU) COMMUNITY DESIGN
The IPR aspects relating to the EU is administered by the Office for Harmonisaton in the International Market (OHIM), situated at Alicante, Spain.
Designs in the EU are protected as Community Designs. They are further categorised as”
1. Unregistered Community Designs – UCD and
2. Registered Community Designs – RCD
Designs filed with the EU are known as Community Design or RCD/UCD. A RCD/UCD is valid in the EU as a whole across the European Union in 27 countries.
ADVANTAGES OF A COMMUNITY TRADEMARKS - CTM are:
1. One single Registration
2. One single Language & Procedure
3. One Single Administrative Centre
4. One single File to be managed.
UCD is an exclusive right that protects the outward appearance of a product or part of it. Offers protection only against copying. As the name indicates, an application need not be filed to avail protection.
Therefore, if a similar design were to be created independently by another designer who is able to show and prove that the designer was not aware of the earlier design, there arises no infringement.
Term of Protection is 3 yrs.
To create a UCD right, the design has to be disclosed with the EU territory through appropriate means such as:
- A printed review of the design bearing a date
- Mass publicity
- Publication in a national IP office bulletin
- Display at an international exhibition
- Dated mailing to all the trade associations of a given industrial sector
Care has to be taken to ensure ‘enough disclosure’. Disclosure is not considered sufficient enough if it is not known ‘in the normal course of business to the circles specialised in the sector concerned operating within the community’.
Though UCD protects a design for 3 yrs. without registration, upon disclosure, a design application has to be filed within 1 yr. from the date of disclosure if the applicant seeks better rights against infringement. This 1 yr. is a grace period granted to protect novelty. Else, novelty is destroyed and the design would no longer be considered new and original for registration.
Applicants can ‘test’ the market for their designs during the 1 yr. grace period and if they wish to seek better rights against infringement, they can then proceed to obtain a Registered Community Design mark.
RCD is an exclusive right that protects the outward appearance of a product or part of it. Being a Registered Design, it offers better protection upon infringement.
RCD covers all 27 member states of the EU through a single application.
Term of Protection is 25 yrs., at renewals of 5 yrs. each.
Applications to obtain an RCD can be filed directly with the OHIM or at any of the national IP Offices.
Representation is not required to file/lodge the application but will be required at a later stage.
An ordinary application does not claim priority.
Convention application calming priority .
A convention application claims priority of an application filed previously in a convention country. (Deadline for claiming priority for a design application in the EU is 6 months from the filing date of the priority application)
INTERNATIONAL DESIGN PROTECTION UNDER HAGUE SYSTEM
Kindly refer our guide under the Hague system.
Difference between UCD and RCD:
- Scope of protection for both is the same.
- Unitary Character throughout the European Union for both.
- Requisites for protection are also the same for both.
- It is only the Rights conferred by both that differ, as RCD offers better and exclusive rights compared to UCD.
WHY PROTECT DESIGNS IN THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY ? Patent law deals in ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of a company or organization as it deals with inventions that are not easily accessible by the general public. Designs along with Trademarks on the other hand, are the ‘visual medium’ which aid in brand projection, recognition, association and retention by existing and potential customers. To prevent rivals from copying industrial designs, it is therefore an important and strategic aspect in the protection of intellectual property rights. Therefore, as with all IP, it is better to begin protection of designs at the earliest before disclosure with the general public.
BENEFITS OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN REGISTRATION IN THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY: Certain countries that follow cumulative protection of Industrial Designs by Copyright as well as Design laws have the ‘Unity of Art’ principle that needs to be followed meaning, entitlement to copyright for applied and other art work shall be determined through the same criteria.
In today’s highly impulse driven and temperament market, industrial designs provide the requisite edge to push products into consumers’ psyche. Such is he craving for fashionable and well crafted products that looks can often be equally or more important that the products’ functionality itself.
Registration of Industrial Design Rights becomes a valuable asset which gives the following benefits:
• A substantial return on interest (ROI) as the popularity of the product is directly proportional to its reproduction and counterfeiting thus enabling swift legal action in preventing copycats and frauds thereby ensuring that the design is not diluted.
• Infringement of designs can help owners obtain damages and recover costs for the same.
• Registration of designs can help owners work on bettering their designs through Research and Development (R&D) on bringing out superior industrial designs thus making it harder to knock off or scale up manufacturing by infringers in order to copy the original designs.
• Registered designs can be sold, licensed, franchised which can all earn royalty. The same can also be used as a collateral to secure loans.
• Industrial Designs complement even strengthen Trademarks hence making brand attention, brand association and retention, brand recall and usage much easier and interesting.
To order a quotation regarding expenses and the fee schedule for