Issue 45 | January 15, 2003
European Union Begins Accepting Applications For Community Design Protection
 As of January 1, 2003, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) began accepting applications to protect designs within the European Union - presently comprising 15 member countries, with more European countries expected to join soon. To be registered, the design must be novel and present an individual character. Upon registration, the owner of an RCD (short for "Registered Community Design") has the right to stop others from selling any product with a design that does not create a different overall impression. This exclusive right can be extended through renewals for up to 25 years from registration.

Some of the intended beneficiaries of the Community Design are clothing fashion designers who can incorporate multiple designs, such as a new line of clothing, into a single application. The scope of protection actually given under the new Community Design remains to be seen. If the wording of the Regulation governing the Community Design is interpreted broadly, the possibility of dramatic disputes is significant. For example, the registrant of a novel, abstract pottery design might be able to enjoin a later automobile design that creates a similar overall impression.

Any applications submitted on or before April 1, 2003 will receive a filing date of April 1. The fees for filing an application are €230, approximately $220. Additional fees are assessed as the application proceeds to registration.

To discuss this topic further, please contact the author, John E. Lyhus at Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery. The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.