A community design is a protective right for obtaining protection of an appearance of an article or a part thereof. A differentiation has to be made between registered and non-registered community designs.
Third-parties are prohibited from using the community design in the absence of approval from the proprietor. Said protective right covers the European Union. The scope of protection of a registered community design also covers the protection of separate developments by third-parties, whereas in the case of non-registered community designs, protection takes effect only with respect to imitation.
The term of protection of a registered community design firstly is 5 years and can be extended by further 5 years at a time, up to a maximum term of protection of 25 years. Non-registered community designs are valid for 3 years as of the date when the creation was made available to the public within the European Union.
Creations which are novel and distinctive can be registered as a community design. The protection thereby covers features which can be seen in the visual representation of the application.
A community design is novel if an identical community design has not been disclosed at the filing date. As regards own publications, community designs are granted a novelty grace period of 12 months prior to the filing date, i.e. an own prior publication of the article to be protected remains unconsidered in the assessment of protectability.
A community design is distinctive if the overall impression of a community design created on the part of an informed user differs from the impression which is created by earlier community designs.
The application for registration of a community design can be filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO) and is forwarded from there to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). A community design can also be filed directed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. A non-registered community design does not require the filing of an application.
Subsequent to the application, the existence of formal requirements is examined. An examination with respect to novelty and distinctiveness is not carried out prior to the registration. Provided that the requirements are satisfied, the community design is recorded in the Register and the registration is published.