Designs

 

Be aware: novelty is a main requirement for a valid design registration. In order to be valid, a design application is to be filed prior to any disclosure of the design.

  

 

 

A design registration procedure outlined

 

 

Via the above hyperlinks, user-friendly tables explain the standard procedure for European and international design registration. From a chosen filing date, a standard procedure is presented in detail, with preliminary calculations, from the moment the application is filed to the day on which the registration certificate is obtained.

For each procedure, the information provided includes the official fees.

Obviously this standard procedure does not provide conclusive advice, but the tables provide a general overview of the procedures.

 

European Union Community design

 

International

 

 

Hereunder some explanations are given as to

  • The costs
  • What is a design?
  • Registration
  • Rights/Benefits
  • Obligations
  • How to register?
  • Where to register?

 

 

 

Cost

 

 

As a registered design represents a measurable value in your company, registration is an investment rather than a cost.

 

In Europe the registration itself covers a five-year period, which may be renewed for four additional five-year periods without annual maintenance fees. At Benelux level, the investment amounts to at least €400, at European level at least €800. In a single application you can register several designs simultaneously, with fees charged on a degressive scale.

 

A relatively limited investment is required for registering designs, in particular when compared with marketing costs, packaging production costs, etc. Enforcing design rights against imitation or counterfeiting can in some cases involve a considerable investment but this can usually be limited by taking expert advice and appropriate action in time.

 

 

 

What is a design or model?

 

 

Only the appearance of a product or a part thereof is protected as a design. That appearance may consist of the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its decoration.

 

A design can therefore be:

  • a two-dimensional drawing, e.g. the design on a garment or tableware;
  • three-dimensional, e.g. the appearance of equipment or furniture;
  • a combination of both e.g. the shape of packaging as well as the layout of the label on that packaging.


In order to be validly protected, a design:

  • has to be new: before registration no (virtually) identical designs must have been disclosed, including your own design or designs disclosed by third parties;
  • must have an individual character: the design must be sufficiently different from designs already disclosed;
  • must not be determined only by a technical function: the design should not only be technically inspired. If this is nevertheless the case, the possibility of filing a patent application for an invention should be considered instead.

 


Please note that in many countries a design may also enjoy protection under copyright law and under the European system there is also a protection regime for non-registered designs. Accordingly, the absence of registration does not mean that a design is completely unprotected.

 

Finally, a design may in some cases also enjoy protection under trademark law, in particular when, for instance, the shape or packaging of a product is perceived by the public as an indication of the origin of the product.

 

Brantsandpatents' patent and design attorneys work with you as a team to determine how your design can be protected. 

 

 

 

Registration

 

 

At European level there is a protection for registered designs and unregistered designs. The latter are only protected for three years as from its first disclosure and only against counterfeit.

 

The registration of designs, however, has important advantages:

 

  • protection period of 5 years which is extendable up to 25 years;
  • the scope goes much further than mere imitation;
  • registration is a proof of ownership unless third shows the contrary, what could be a very difficult task;
  • registration is a greater guarantee for distributors;
  • a registration can easily be valued as an intangible asset and can be sold as such.

         

It is of great importance that you register before disclosing the design to the outside world !

 

The registration is more than simply submitting a form since it determines the scope of your design. Do you want to register one design or also a number of variants, and if so, which ones?  Which outward features are advisable to be omitted in the registration? Registering in color or not?

 

Brantsandpatents can help you make the right choices.

  

 

 

Rights/Benefits

  

 

As the owner of a design registration

 

  • you own for five years the exclusivity for the design (extendable up to 25 years);
  • you are the owner of a property right which belongs to the intangible assets of your business; therefore you can value a design, license it or sell it;
  • you can oppose counterfeiting or imitation, especially against designs which gives an overall identical impression on an informed user;
  • you can at least deter third parties who would (or want to) imitate your design.

 

 

Attention: official authorities usually do not automatically intervene in conflicts between designs. You must therefore - in cooperation with your consultant - assert your design rights through the appropriate procedures.

 

It is important to take legal action at as early a phase as possible against counterfeiting or imitation, as on the one hand the chances of reaching a negotiated settlement are greater and on the other hand the financial costs will usually be much lower.

 

Brantsandpatents can advise you whether and when to assert your design rights. We also have a great deal of experience and legal expertise to support you in negotiations and in any legal proceedings.

 

 

 

Obligations

 

 

In order to maintain your design rights and your exclusivity, you must renew your design registration in time, every five years up to a maximum of 25 years.

 

Brantsandpatents keeps track of all deadlines and notifies you in time what steps you should take.

  

 

 

How?

 

 

Designs are registered with a particular public authority.

 

When registering you must submit qualitative images of the design clearly showing the key characteristics. These images (drawings or photographs) should display the design only, against a neutral background and without technical indications. You also need to indicate to what product the design relates.

 

The registration timeline shows the various phases of the procedure.

 

Brantsandpatents ensures that your design is registered and monitored correctly.

  

 

  

Where?

 

 

There is no global registration system and in principle one has to register on a country-by-country basis. However, there are a number of important exceptions to this rule:

  • Benelux: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have a fully unified design legislation and form as it were one country for the purpose of design law.
  • European Union: A Community design, valid for all member states of the European Union, may be registered with a specific European authority. Protection is governed by European design legislation.
  • Hague System: Through one single application, one single registration may be obtained for various countries, offering an à la carte choice among about 40 member states of the system.


Please note that, after an initial registration of a design in a particular country, you have a six-month priority period to apply for a corresponding registration in other countries as well. Applications filed by others during this period, cannot be invoked against your application.

 

This priority right is extremely important in intellectual property law and must be claimed explicitly.

 

Various factors should be taken into account when deciding under which system you should register your design, including the level of investment and the legal and practical pros and cons of each system.

 

Brantsandpatents has the necessary knowledge of registration systems worldwide to enable you to take the right decisions.


In foreign national registration procedures, Brantsandpatents is supported by a network of correspondents who have been carefully selected on the basis of quality, efficiency and cost.