27 May 2010
The Community Design Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 on Community designs as amended) establishes two new EU wide intellectual property rights:
Both rights have unitary character with equal effect throughout the European Union.
These are substantially the same as for registered designs, in other words the design must be new and have individual character.
Registration of a design as a registered Community design confers a monopoly of the design. The holder of the registration enjoys the exclusive right to use it and to prevent any third party not having his or her consent from using the design. Such use shall cover, in particular, the making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting or using of a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or stocking such a product for those purposes. The holder of an unregistered design by contrast has the right to prevent those acts only if the contested use results from copying.
A design can be registered for 5 renewable terms of 5 years each. Unregistered design right subsists only for 3 years from the date on which the design was first made available to the public in the EU.
The reason for two separate intellectual property rights is that the fashion, toys, novelties and other industries that produce large numbers of designs for products having a short market life do not wish to undergo the expense and inconvenience of registration while other industries which require a longer term of protection and legal certainty value the advantages of registration.