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Protect your trade marks and designs in the European Union

Protect your intellectual property in the European Union

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Registered Community
Design Walkthrough

What can be a registered Community design

Examples of design applications

A vacuum cleaner, an example of design applications

Vacuum cleaner

Design number: 003305929-0002

A garden shed, an example of design application

Garden sheds

Design number: 002068585-0003

 

Before you apply for a design there are three things to take into consideration.

 

Does your design qualify for registration?

A design protects the appearance of a product and is intrinsically linked to a product. If there is no product, there can be no protection.

Any industrial or handicraft item including packaging, graphic symbols and typefaces qualify as a product. Parts of products that can be taken apart and reassembled can also be protected.

Colours per se, mere verbal elements and sounds are examples of things that do not qualify as they do not constitute the appearance of a product. However, they may qualify for trade mark protection.

Living organisms and concepts do not qualify either, for the same reason, and do not qualify for trade mark protection either.

Furthermore, your design should respect public policy and certain morality standards. Designs that portray or promote violence or discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation will be refused.

Is your design new?

The design regulation requires your design, whether an RCD or a UCD, to be new and to possess individual character.

Novelty

A design is new if no identical design has been disclosed before it. If two designs differ only in immaterial details, they will still be considered identical.

Individual character

A design possesses individual character if the overall impression conveyed to the informed user differs from that conveyed by any other previous designs.

Is your design correctly and accurately represented?

The purpose of graphical representation is to display all the features of the design you are applying for. You alone are responsible for ensuring that the features of your design are displayed as thoroughly as possible.

Therefore, it is important that you prepare the representation of your design carefully and thoroughly. The quality of the representation is paramount to your design protection.

In practical terms, the quality of the graphical representation must allow your design to be reduced or enlarged to a size no greater than 8 cm by 16 cm for entry in the Register of Community Designs and for publication in the Community Designs Bulletin.

Views

You can file up to ten different views to represent your design; seven protected views and three non-protected views. Different views such as plain, in elevation, cross-sectional, in perspective or exploded views can be uploaded. Our online design application allows you to upload using the drag-and-drop function and you can use both 3D and static images. Please make sure that the views you file relate to the same design and represent a visible part of it.

If you file a complex product, i.e. a product composed of multiple components that can be replaced, allowing the product to be taken apart and reassembled, at least one of the views must show the complex product in assembled form. The same applies to a set of articles such as a chess-board and its pieces or a set of cutlery.

Colours

The set of representations of the design may be made either in black and white or in colour. It is not permitted to mix colour types, e.g. to file three views in black and white and four in colour for the same design.

Background

The representation of your design must be displayed on a neutral background. The design should be clearly distinguishable from its environment.

Identifiers

If you want to highlight certain parts of the design; either to show that you only claim that specific part or that you expressly do not claim a certain part of the design, you can use one of the following identifiers

  • Broken lines for indicating elements for which no protection is required
  • Boundaries for outlining features of the design for which you do want protection
  • Colour shading and blurring for excluding a number of features from protection
  • Separations for indicating that the precise length of the design is not claimed

No explanatory text, wording or additional symbols may be used in the design views.

Design definition

Design protection is an important business asset for companies of all sizes, not just bigger ones.

EUIPO’s research shows that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which own designs have 17% higher revenue per employee than SMEs that do not own any intellectual property rights.

Designs are well defined in the European Union:

'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'.

Article 3 of the Design Regulation

 

Examples of designs

Almost any industrial or handicraft item can be eligible for design protection (except for computer programs)

Search for an example of packaging of products

Packaging of products

RCD 002710731-0001
Search for an example of a product / set of products

A product / set of products

RCD 002490193-0001
Search for an example of composite products

Composite products

RCD 000408166-0001
Search for an example of parts of products

Parts of products

RCD 229752-0001
 
Search for an example of computer icons

Computer icons

RCD 003001494-0002
Search for an example of drawings and artwork

Graphic designs

RCD 004547370-0002
 
 

A little bit of theory

Intellectual Property

The concept behind intellectual property (IP) is straightforward and has been with us for a long time. Wherever we go, we are surrounded by intellectual property.

Mere thoughts and ideas do not qualify; intellectual property defines and protects human innovations and creations

  • Trade marks signal the origin of products to consumers
  • Designs specify how products look
  • Copyright relates to artistic creations, such as books, music, paintings, sculptures and films
  • Patents protect technical inventions in all fields of technology

Intellectual property rewards innovators and enables everyone to benefit from their achievements.

 

The Intellectual Property Metro: designers often re-create ideas to make something new, useful and unique. Download this map – it will help you register your rights.


An adaptation of the metro map concept representing the timelines of the different Intellectual property processes

 

More resources on IP

 

Route to registration

Owning a registered design gives you and your competitors a clear indication of what has been designed and when it was done. The right is renewable for up to 25 years and can become your company's iconic asset. Your design is your IP signature.

 

Good design adds value. Registered Community designs make it real.

 

There are three crucial pieces of information on the application form

  • Ownership - any individual or company can own an RCD. The details are made public and must be kept up to date so that there can be no doubt who owns the design
  • What can be a registered Community design - this must be a clear representation
  • The design and its product(s) - this should be described clearly, preferably using the terminology of the internationally agreed 'Locarno' classification of products. If the indication of product cannot be found in the Locarno classification, our examiner may request you either to specify the nature and purpose of the designated product or to change the indication of product


Apply for a Community design online from €350

Register your design
Fast and easy

Apply online 

* We strongly recommend that you file your design online, using the RCD e-filing tool. The online tool has many advantages. Filing an application by fax is not recommended because the quality of the representation of the design(s) may deteriorate in the course of transmission or on receipt by the Office.
Please note, moreover, that it takes up to one month longer to process applications sent by fax. This is because we wait for up to one month (from the date of receipt of the fax transmission) for a confirmation copy before processing the application further. Once this period has elapsed, we proceed with the examination on the basis of the documents on file.

You can take advantage of our lower rates if you file several designs in one application for the same or similar type of products.

Apply now

A registered Community design (RCD) grants you exclusive rights in all current and future Member States of the European Union through a single registration, filed online. It is valid for 5 years and it can be renewed for a maximum of 25 years, 5 years at a time.

Before applying, you can also check our design filing tips and best practices so that you avoid making mistakes in the application.

 

File an error free application

Our recommendation to avoid problems.

 

More information on our fees.

 

File a registered Community design using the Four-step application

Our Fast Track option for registering your design

Logo Fast Track application
 
 
  • To create and submit your application can take as little as 10 minutes.
  • We will guide you step by step through the application procedure.
  • Find out more about Fast Track.
  • Payment available only for credit card or current account. Bank transfers not accepted.

 

Advanced form

Use the advanced form to submit your own product indication, claim priority later, submit your priority documents later or add an exhibition claim. Please be aware that this form is not compatible with Fast Track.

Registration process

You have just filed a design. What happens next? Is there anything you need to do?

Once received at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), your application will be checked by our examiners. If you have filed your design online, the route to registration will be straightforward. Most online filings are registered within a couple of days.

The following concerns applications filed directly with EUIPO. The International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) carries out most of the formalities check for international registrations filed with WIPO that designate the EU.

 

Examination criteria

Formal requirements

All applications go through a formalities check. When an examiner detects a problem, it is communicated to you or your representative (if you have appointed one) for remedying. You are normally given two months to respond to the examiner's objection (or deficiency letter as we refer to it). If this period is not sufficient, you can request an extension. In general, EUIPO grants a first request for extension automatically. However, a second extension request is granted only if sufficiently and properly justified.

 

Here are some examples of problems that can arise:

Solution

The representation you have submitted is not suitable for reproduction, i.e. it is not clear from the representation what the protection sought is for. Solution Hide

You will be asked to send (by post) a clear representation of the design for which protection is sought. The date on which EUIPO receives the representation becomes the filing date.

The views you have submitted are inconsistent with each other. Solution Hide

You will be asked to:

  • Remove the mismatching view(s) from your application or
  • Convert your application into a multiple application for different designs and pay the corresponding fees
You are either a company without a place of business or a real and effective establishment in the European Union, or you are an individual whose domicile is outside the European Union and you have not appointed a representative. Solution Hide

You will be asked to appoint a representative.

The fees you have paid do not cover all the designs you have applied for. Solution Hide

You will be asked to pay the outstanding fee or remove some of your designs.

You have failed to indicate a product or the indication is erroneous. Solution Hide

You will be asked to indicate the product or specify the nature and purpose of the products in order to permit proper classification. We strongly recommend using the Eurolocarno classification tool.

 

If your answer does not solve the problem, the examiner will refuse your design application either in its entirety or, in the case of a multiple application, for some of the designs. The examiner will issue a decision, which can be appealed if you disagree with it.

What we examine

EUIPO's substantive examination is limited to two issues:

  1. Is your design a design?
    Does your design represent the appearance of the whole or part of a product? An examiner will issue a notification if they believe it does not. For example, a design representing a living plant would receive such a notification.
  2. Does the design contain an element that goes against public policy and morality?
    The concepts of public policy and morality may vary from one country to another. But given the unitary character of an RCD, it is enough that a design be found contrary to public policy in at least part of the European Union for the design to be refused.

If an examiner deems your design to be in breach of either of these two rules, they will send a deficiency letter offering you the possibility of withdrawing or amending the representation of the design. You can also submit observations. If you decide to submit an amended representation of the design, this representation will be admissible on condition that the 'identity of the design' is retained. Obviously, you cannot submit a completely different design. You can only remove or disclaim insignificant features, i.e. those likely to go unnoticed by the informed user.

If you do not answer at all or do not solve the problem highlighted by the examiner, they will send a notification that the design is refused. This decision can also be appealed.

Excluded from examination

The Office will not, of its own motion, check whether your design is new or if it possesses individual character. Third parties can request that your design be declared invalid. The invalidity procedure can only be launched against a design once it has been registered and not during the registration process.

Proof of registration

If no problem is detected or if you solve any issues arising, your design will be registered. It will also be published in the Community Designs Bulletin. If you have asked for your design to be deferred, only the design number, the filing date, the registration dates and the names of the applicant and representative will be published. The representation of the design itself will not be published.

A registration certificate is issued online after the registered Community design has been published in full. You are invited to download the certificate from the day after publication. A paper copy of the certificate of registration will not be issued. However, uncertified or certified copies of the registration certificate may be requested.

How to challenge an Office decision

Parties adversely affected by a final decision can file an appeal. If you wish to file an appeal, you can use our paper form. If you need to, you can also consult the explanatory notes. You can also do this online through your User Area.

Page last updated 01-07-2020
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