WIPO joins Designview

As of 20 June 2016, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has made its international design data available to the Designview search tool.

The integration of almost 220.000 designs is a concrete result of the current cooperation framework between EUIPO and WIPO and with the addition of the International Registrations the total number of designs in Designview is more than 9.6 million.

Designview provides an invaluable source for any Internet user to conduct a 24/7, free-of-charge search among the designs of all participating offices.

To access Designview, please click here.

eSearch Case Law: publication of the list of keywords and online training

eSearch Case Law is a tool developed by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) allowing users to search for decisions and judgments of the General Court, the Court of Justice and the National Courts.

eSearch Case Law now offers a complete list of keywords with explanations which you can find on the EUIPO's website. The keywords are used as tools to perform advanced searches in eSearch Case Law. For instance, a user can limit/refine a search by using the keywords ‘Proof of use’ and ‘Well-known facts need no evidence’; these keywords will help the user to restrict the search to about a dozen case laws.

If you want to familiarise yourself with this tool, don’t miss the EUIPO online eSearch Case Law training. This certified course consists of an online tutorial of less than 15 minutes and a quiz.

The training is accessible at the following link.


Design Management in a Furniture Company

Enterprises often devote a significant amount of time and resources to enhance the design appeal of their products. Protecting an industrial design may improve the competitiveness of a company and often brings in additional revenue. The case of a Belgium furniture designer examines possible solutions to copyright infringements at European level.


Mr van Hepart is a creative and passionate furniture designer running his own successful business of manufacturing and distribution of comfortable sofas and armchairs in the centre of Brussels. One day, in the course of his activity, he developed the idea of an innovative sofa design whose lines, contours, colour and shape contribute to conferring an appealing appearance to the piece of furniture.

He began to commercialise the product, which became very popular in Belgium, to the extent that an interior design magazine dedicated an entire page to the sofa including images of the product along with an interview with the designer.

Issues faced

After one year and a half, Mr van Hepart discovered that a competitor in Spain had begun to sell sofas reproducing the lines, contours, colour and shape of his popular sofa. And as if this was not enough, the competitor offered the product at a lower price. Knowing that such circumstances could cause a consistent economic loss, he decided to ask a legal advisor for support in order to assess the chances of protecting his design rights.

The advisor showed that, in order to prevent third party copies in the entire territory of the European Union, it was possible to protect the design rights through the Registered Community Design (RCD) or the Unregistered Community Design (UCD). The first one confers a long protection of 5 years renewable for five-year periods, up to a maximum of 25 years. Unfortunately, in this specific case, the divulgation of the sofa design (i.e. in the relevant case of commercialisation and publication of images in a specialised magazine), for a period exceeding one year, did not comply with the novelty requirement to obtain a RCD.
Nevertheless, while lacking any design registration, Mr van Hepart's design rights could be protected through the Unregistered Community Design, granting an exclusive right for a period of three years from the date on which the design was made available to the public.
Therefore the advice provided by the legal advisor was the following:

  1. to send a cease and desist letter to refrain and stop the infringing conduct on the basis of the UCD;
  2. to enforce the unregistered design rights before a court if the infringing conduct persists;
  3. to develop an effective strategy for the protection of the design rights in future products, being aware that registering a Community Design (granting an exclusive right for up to 25 years) may not be possible if the design is divulgated (through its commercialisation, publication, etc.) after the 1-year grace period (1 year from the first divulgation).

Actions undertaken and results

Mr van Hepart finally managed to solve the issue by reaching an amicable settlement with the infringing third party who ceased commercialisation of the sofa. Unfortunately, due to the earlier divulgation of his design, he was not able to register his community design (potentially granting a protection up to a maximum of 25 years) but he could rely on his unregistered design (granting protection for three years from the date of the first divulgation). Nevertheless, once the UCD expires, his sofa design will enter the public domain.

Lessons learned

As shown above, securing IP rights do not necessarily require registration but the choice of relying on an unregistered IP right should also consider the protection granted. The unregistered design grants an exclusive right for a relatively short period (three years). Such an instrument is very useful to secure the design rights in products with a short market life (e.g. seasonal products in fashion industries). On the contrary, it could appear as a weak instrument for products with a potentially long market life, given that the unregistered design will enter the public domain after three years.
Economic operators should be aware of the different instruments offered in order to set the best IP practices in accordance with their marketing and sales objectives.

In this regard, an adapted training on the available instruments to secure one's own intellectual property rights appears to be relevant in order to effectively manage potential conflicting situations and to valorise one's own intangible assets in the light of the planned business strategy.




OHIM publishes its 2016 Work programme

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) has revealed its 2016 Work programme, where the activities to be undertaken by the Office are outlined. 
The first part of the programme describes the activities that the Office will engage in under the Strategic Plan in 2016 including the activities related to both internal and external audits as well as data protection. The second part contains the forecast for volumes of trade mark and design applications as well as for other types of filings, such as oppositions and appeals. 
Please click here to read the full Work programme. 

Intellectual Property made easy

The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office has recently created a new series of IP-based animations which aim to explain the different IP rights and how they can benefit business.

If you want to acquire basic information on Intellectual Property, this suite of 12 short animations is the perfect place for you to start.

The animations are available at the following link.

Applications for the DesignEuropa Awards are now open

Applications are now open for the first edition of the DesignEuropa Awards celebrating excellence in design and design management among Registered Community Design (RCD) holders, whether they are individual right holders, small businesses or large enterprises.

The DesignEuropa Awards have three categories:

  • Industry (firms with more than 50 employees and/or over €10 million turnover);
  • Small and Emerging companies (firms with fewer than 50 employees and/or less than €10 million turnover, or companies established after January 1, 2013); and
  • a special Lifetime Achievement Award.

The application period runs until July 15th, 2016 and the award ceremony will take place in Milan on November 30th.

The awards are presented in partnership with the Italian Patent and Trade Mark Office (Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi).

Further information is available on the DesignEuropa Award section of OHIM’s website.


The European IPR Helpdesk launches new online features

The European IPR Helpdesk has started this New Year 2016 with two fresh features on the website: From now on the team will regularly provide users with so-called “IP Specials” that will take a closer look at IP issues in a particular business sector or a European Member State. Those thematic packages may include for instance interviews, case studies or fact sheets. The new series has been kicked off with a special on "IP in the Bio-Sector".

Additionally, the European IPR Helpdesk has opened a new section called “IP and Innovation in the Spotlight” offering articles, interviews, success stories, Helpline cases as well as news from the team and the world of IP in an online magazine way.

Both new formats aim to give users additional access to the broad range of IP-related content that the European IPR Helpdesk team constantly develops.

Conference report: “Infringements of Designs Protected by Design Law and Copyright”

The conference report for the latest Knowledge and Awareness Building Conference jointly organised by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), Europol (EU’s law enforcement agency) and Eurojust (EU's Judicial Cooperation Unit) has been released.

This latest conference, held on November 2015, focused on infringement of designs protected by design law and copyright by addressing different specific topics such as the implications of 3D printing.  

The published report compiles the presentations made by the international speakers on design infringements, the disparities in current national legislation and enforcement issues together with the main findings and conclusions of the event.

You may read the full report here.


A new design classification tool: DesignClass

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) has just launched DesignClass, the most extensive free online resource of pre-accepted product indications available to users.

The new design classification tool is based on a Harmonised Database of Product Indications (HDBPI) containing approximately 13,000 concepts including Locarno Classification terms and other terms pre-approved and pre-validated by 24 participating EU offices, in 23 EU languages.

Further information is available here.

Celebrating the importance of design: DesignEuropa Awards

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) has launced the first edition of the DesignEuropa Awards.

The Awards are open to firms and/or individuals who hold a valid Registered Community Design (RCD). The RCD is a unitary intellectual property right administered by OHIM and valid throughout the EU-28.

The DesignEuropa Awards will be given in three categories:

  • Industry (firms with more than 50 employees and over €10 million turnover)
  • Small and Emerging companies (firms with fewer than 50 employees and less than €10 million turnover, or companies established after January 1, 2013)
  • Special Lifetime Achievement Award

Applications for entry will open through OHIM's website on February 1, 2016 and the award ceremony will be held in Milan, Italy, in December 2016.

See the full press release on the DesignEuropa Awards here.