The Community Design

A Single Design for the entire Union

The Community Design is a single title granting protection in all the EU member states.

Owning a Community Design allows protection throughout the Union.The person filing a Community Design has 6 months to extend the design abroad hooking the filing date of the Community design (the so-called priority right). The Community Design has a maximum duration of 25 years, starting with a protection of 5 years that has to be renewed every five years.

What is a community design

The Community Design created by (EC) Regulation no. 6/2002 of December 12, 2001 allows one to obtain with a single application a design valid in the entire territory of the European Union.
The Community Design is a single right, meaning that it can be registered, transferred, renounced, declared void or canceled and its use may be forbidden only for the European Union as a whole and not for the single countries.

Natural and legal people are allowed to register a Community Design. If the applicant does not have neither legal office nor an industrial or a commercial real factory within the European Economic Area (EEA), it has to appoint a representative having office in the EEA. This registration system coexists with the national and international one according to the Hague Agreement.

How to file a community design application

The community design application for registration can be submitted before the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) in Alicante (Spain). 

To file the application for registration the applicant has to fill in a specific form with the data of the applicant, who will become the owner of the design, the name of the design and the indication of the goods.

One or more samples of the design must be attached to the application in case of a single design and also in case of a multiple design. It is possible to file more views of each design (the plan, the lateral and the axonometric views). The filling and the sending of the application of a community design may seem easy but one should remember that the difficulty, often great, lies in taking the preliminary choices before filing the application and in the choice of the drawings to be filed.

The registration procedure

Once the application has been filed, the application receives a number and a day of filing that marks the start of the examination of the documentation that, however, is generally formal and technical.

The EUIPO does not make any search to assess if the model is new and has individual character.

The design registration procedure does not include an opposition phase, as it is for trademark, therefore designs are usually granted quite promptly.           

After the granting, the design is published and registered.

A design has an initial duration of 5 years – starting from the filing day – which may be renewed every five years up to a maximum of 25 years by paying a specific fee and thus extending its duration.

Appeals against the decision of the Office

Within 2 months, one may resort to the Board of Appeals to appeal against the measures of the Office rejecting, totally or partially, a filed application. The appeal must be properly motivated in form or in fact. Against the decision of the Board of Appeals, it is possible to address an appeal to the Court of Justice. Given the nature and the difficulty of the proceeding, it is required to be represented by a lawyer expert in the field

Withdrawal and limitation of the registration

The applicant may, at any moment, between the filing of the application and its granting, – withdraw the application (and therefore to renounce it) or limit it, for example by reducing the number of models of a multiple design. Moreover, it may be necessary to withdraw or limit a design when a conflict arises with a third having earlier rights or in case it has been kept secret to avoid its publication.

A change not only consented but also due is related to the change of address of the owner of the design.
Personal detail changes, renounces and limitations have to be communicated to the office submitting a specific application of change.

Design transfer

A design can be also transferred or licensed to thirds other than just used. The first case is something similar to a sale: the design changes “owner”; the second case is a sort of “rent” where the use of the design is granted to a third party.

Contracts of design assignment are very delicate: they require a wide knowledge of the design that is being sold and, above all, purchased. They require a technical study aimed at checking that the design is alive, that there isn’t any possible or current conflict, that there isn’t any coexistent agreement or similar. All this is attained through a careful analysis of the design (the so-called due diligence), without which one could risk buying an empty box.

Another important aspect is the value of the design, but it is not easy to know it without the guidance of an expert in the field. The transfer, or license, of a design has to be communicated to the EUIPO by a specific transfer application. The transfer is necessary for the effect on thirds and above all as a guarantee for the purchaser or licensee.

Norm of Reference

CE Regulation no. 6/2022 of December 12, 2001

Giulia Mugnaini - responsabile Marchi&Design

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Head of Trademark & Design Department

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