In order to obtain a registered Community design it is necessary to make an application, either directly to the EU IPO or via a national office in an EU member state, who will forward the application to the EU IPO. The application should include information about the applicant, representations of the design to be registered and specify the product to which the design is to be applied. An official fee must also be paid. There are no nationality restrictions as to whom may apply for, or own, a registered Community design.
It is possible to include more than one design in a single application. Applications covering more than one design are known as multiple applications. Multiple applications can only include designs which fall within the same class of the International Classification for Industrial Designs (Locarno Classification) unless the designs are for ornamentation only. For example, it is possible to include several different designs for bottle stoppers in one application but it is not possible to include designs for bottle stoppers and bottle openers in the same application. Where multiple applications are available, they can substantially reduce the cost of securing protection for several designs.
We advise our clients which specific design(s) they should register in order to maximise protection for the appearance of a product. We also advise how a specific design should best be represented in an application form and can arrange for formal drawings to be prepared, where necessary.
After filing, the EU IPO considers whether an application meets the formal filing requirements and carries out a limited examination.
The only issues of substance that are considered during examination are (i) whether the subject matter of the application falls within the definition of a protectable design and (ii) whether the design is contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality. For the majority of applications, no objections are raised. However, if any objections are made, there is an opportunity to respond to the objections before a final decision is issued.
Once an application has been accepted for registration, details of the application are normally published in the Community Designs Bulletin and a certificate of registration is issued. However, it is possible to request that publication is deferred for up to thirty months provided that a request for deferral is made when the application is filed. Where an application is a multiple application, publication can be deferred for some or all of the designs. You may wish to request deferred publication if it is still important to keep your design secret, for example because your product has not yet been launched.