Industrial design of the European Union

An industrial design of the European Community (Community design) provides its owner with a unitary legal protection on the territory of all member states of the European Union.

The following states are currently member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia.

The registration of the Community design is obtained on the basis of one single application in one language, with a payment of a single fee.

A registered Community design right may provide protection for the outward appearance of a product, or part of it.   Any industrial or handicraft item including packaging, get-up, graphic symbols, typographic typefaces (except computer programs) are qualified as a product.

To be eligible for protection, a Community design must be novel and must have an individual character.

European Community design applications are filed with - the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (the former Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) based in Alicante, Spain, or at with the patent office of a member state or, in Benelux countries, with  the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. 

An application for registration of a Community design undergoes a simple check to determine whether the application complies with formal requirements. There is no in-depth substantive examination, except to verify that the application is for an industrial design and that the design is not contrary to public policy or morality. If the results of the examination are positive, the industrial design is registered and the registration is then published in the EUIPO Official Journal.

A registered European Community design is initially valid for five years from the date of filing and can be renewed for five year periods up to a total possible term of 25 years.

On the territory of the European Union there is a certain protection provided for unregistered Community designs.

More detailed information can be found on the website of the European Union Intellectual Property Office.