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Communitarian industrial designs

Both registered and unregistered designs are protected. In the first case, the design is registered at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), through a simple procedure and a small fee. It is valid for 5 years, renewable for periods of identical duration up to a maximum of 25 years. The owner of the registered design obtains the right to exclusively exploit the patented design or any significantly similar designs within the Community.

 

Both purely ornamental and functional designs can be given protection cover. A functional design however will only receive protection if the design is not exclusively determined by its technical functions.

 

The protection of an unregistered communitarian design arises automatically from the date it is made public in the Community. It lasts for three years and concedes solely the right to prevent deliberate copies of the said design.

 

To obtain communitarian protection, a design must be new and unique amongst similar designs worldwide known to the specialized circles of the sector in question operating within the Community. In the case of registered designs, this must be before the date of application or of priority and in the case of unregistered designs as from when they are made public in the Community. This means that the objective conditions required for recognizing rights are the same for all designs, registered or unregistered, and regardless of the extent of the rights granted to either.

 

An unregistered design not only receives protection but also a leave period of one year during which the disclosure of the design by its author, the person to whom the right has been conceded or transferred to, or a third party as a consequence of the information provided by them will not reduce the possibility of registration by any person entitled to do it. This permits the design owner to test it on the market before deciding whether to apply for registration or to keep to the more limited protection of an unregistered design.

 

The protection granted to the design will be compatible with any other form of protection, such as the protection resulting from the intellectual property that might be applicable to the design. This will cover Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Letonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria.

 

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